BUSD: How to get involved in Berkeley schools budget process

The Berkeley School Board and budget committee will take up the issue of cuts and several upcoming public meetings. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD

The Berkeley Unified School District released the following statement Thursday, explaining the budget process and describing how the public can provide input on upcoming cuts:

A series of economic and fiscal conditions and factors are putting pressures on school district budgets across the state of California. One of these is the fact that there have been several years in which state education funding has not kept pace with expenses. Furthermore, the mandate for funding state employee pensions has risen significantly (an estimated $1.3 million annual increase for Berkeley each year through 2020-21), and school districts have needed to address employee compensation after several lean years during the Great Recession (2007-12).

In order to ensure that the Berkeley Unified School District can continue with a balanced budget that earns a positive certification from the Alameda County Office of Education, the board has set the goal of cutting $1.8 million in costs for the 2018-19 school year. Since a reduction in some General Fund budgets was already made for this current fiscal year, some difficult decisions will have to be made on reducing services, programs and/or staffing.

With the School Board planning to make its final decision on budget reductions for the 2018-19 fiscal year at the board meeting on Feb. 21, the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee is working to come up with specific recommendations to make to the Superintendent.

The Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC), a key forum for discussing budget issues and developing recommendations, will devote two upcoming meetings to the recommendations. The SBAC meetings are scheduled at the district office, 2020 Bonar St., at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16 and Tuesday, Jan. 23.

The School Board will include discussion of the budget at its two upcoming meetings: Wednesday, Jan. 24 and Wednesday, Feb. 7. The board will devote the Feb. 21 board meeting to the budget and plans to take action on any cuts that may be necessary to meet the budget development timeline that ensures a balanced budget can be presented and approved by June 30. The open session of board meetings begins at 7:30 p.m. You can check the meeting agenda, which is posted late Friday before the Wednesday meeting, to get a better idea of when the topic will be taken up. Board meetings are held in the board room at 1231 Addison St.

Preliminary ideas for budget reductions were presented at the Dec. 5 SBAC meeting.

Note: At the time of this writing, the Governor’s January Budget proposal was just released, and the calculations [above] do not take into account that information. We will continue to keep the community updated as the Governor’s proposal makes its way through negotiations with the legislature and into the final state budget (usually approved in June).