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School Board Avoids Program Cuts

With support from the Hermosa Beach Education Foundation and Parent Teacher Organization, no programs or staff were cut from next year's budget.

Fundraising efforts by the Hermosa Beach Education Foundation (HBEF) and Parent Teacher Organization helped the Hermosa Beach City School District avert program and staff cuts in the upcoming 2012-2013 budget, the board announced last week.

During last Tuesday's school board meeting, the HBEF and PTO pledged a combined $766,501 for the Hermosa school district to help maintain staff and educational programs for the upcoming school year.

"We have an incredible group of parents in this community that make this possible," said HBEF president Stephanie Bell during her presentation to the board. "This remarkable accomplishment shows the tremendous support and value this community puts on educating our children."

Programs and staff saved with the funds raised by the HBEF and PTO include middle school elective programs, a science lab, physical education program and school librarians, the board said. In addition, the funds will prevent increased class sizes next year.

Of the $9.8 million budget approved during the meeting, $1.4 million will come from "local revenue," with more than 50 percent of that $1.4 million generated by the HBEF and PTO's fundraising efforts.

"We are really blessed in this district to have such support because that is a huge amount of support for our school district," interim superintendent Alan Rasmussen said. "Without the ed foundation, we would not be able to provide those programs."

Despite support from the community and educational foundation though, the district's budget will still hinge on a tax hike initiative on the November ballot. If California voters do not pass the tax hike, Hermosa schools stand to lose about $441 per student, the board said.

Regardless, Rasmussen said that when the board built the budget, they planned for the worst-case scenario. "When we build the budget, we have to build in contingencies that if (the tax hike) passes or if it doesn't pass," he said.

If voters reject the measure, school employees will take six furlough days to compensate for lost revenue but will be reimbursed if the measure does pass. In addition, the district has already placed a hold on filling seven or eight open positions until they find out more about the state's budget.

To ensure the district will have enough cash on hand to pay employees and vendors, the board approved resolutions that will allow the district to transfer money between school accounts and also borrow money from the Los Angeles County Treasurer School Pools Fund. 

Officials also plan to crack down on parents who do not live in the Hermosa school district but still register there, according to business manager Angela Jones. "We are going to be doing checks on all new residents to ensure that they do live here," she said.

Despite the possible worst-case outcome of the November ballot initiative though, Rasmussen says that the district is prepared. "We will be solvent and we will have a positive certification moving forward with this budget," he said.  "We hold our breath until November and see what happens."

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