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EDUCATION FUNDS TO HELP LAUSD DODGE $150 MILLION IN FISCAL CUTS.

Byline: Erik N. Nelson Staff Writer

Los Angeles Unified School District officials said Tuesday they won't need to cut $150 million from their proposed $5.6 billion operating budget for the next fiscal year because of better-than-expected news about state education funding.

Superintendent Roy Romer had proposed the cuts, assuming that the state's exorbitant energy cost could cut into money the district would receive from the state.

But Gov. Gray Davis on Monday released budget revisions that called for increasing statewide education funding by $676 million, while canceling tax cuts and slashing many other state departments to the tune of $3.2 billion.

``There is some help in this budget for us,'' Romer said. ``It's too soon to say how much.''

But Romer did present the school board's budget committee on Tuesday with updated details on what his spending priorities were in advance of a formal presentation of the district's provisional budget for the 2001-2002 school year on May 22.

Budget officials included more than $400,000 unspent during the 2000-2001 year, which ends June 30, bringing the 2001-2002 operating budget to $5.6 billion.

That would bring the total budget to about $9 billion, including other non-general fund expenditures. Those include an estimated $2 billion for school construction and $1.4 million for costs such as the district's own workers' compensation insurance program and its cafeteria fund.

A complete budget will be released June 13, but school officials won't know how much money the state budget will offer until it passes both houses of the Legislature and is signed by the governor. That is supposed to happen before July 1, but the process can drag on for months past the deadline.

The preliminary operating budget figures released Tuesday also show teacher and administrator salaries rising by $5 million to $2.5 billion. That figure includes double-digit raises negotiated for the current year with teacher and administrator unions, and non-union employees such as high-level administrators and their staffs.

Pay for classified employees, most of whom are still negotiating a contract, is projected to drop by $56 million to $700 million. But any raise the district might agree to is not factored into the budget estimate.

Benefits for both groups would increase $7 million to $750 million in the preliminary budget.

Officials also budgeted an increase of $122 million for books and supplies for a total of $377 million, and a decrease in services and operating expenditures of $34 million to $426 million.

Budget committee Chairwoman Caprice Young tempered the hope from Sacramento with her concern about the economy.

``On the economy, I think this year is hard, but next year's going to be much harder,'' she said, ''because school revenues tend to lag about a year behind the economy.''
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 16, 2001
Words:459
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