Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee discusses BUSD budget cuts

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The Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee, or SBAC, met Tuesday evening to discuss the Berkeley Unified School District’s, or BUSD’s, budget cuts from its general fund for the 2018-19 school year, which aim to cut between $1.8 million and $2.1 million.

SBAC has the responsibility of proposing budget recommendations to the superintendent in times of reductions in state education funding or when revenue does not meet projections and budget cuts are needed, according to the BUSD website.

SBAC made recommendations to cut from staff, including reducing the number of Berkeley High School counselors. There were also recommendations for reduction in transportation repair and supplies, as well as contribution to child development.

The committee unanimously agreed to finalize other recommendations, such as downgrading the position of “director of student services” to “manager.”

“We are making cuts because of a budget shortfall,” said BUSD spokesperson Charles Burress in an email. “Project revenue is less than projected expenses.”

BUSD Superintendent Donald Evans said at the meeting that the school board set a target of $1.8 million in budget reductions but asked the committee to consider $2.1 million in order to account for a more flexible budget plan.

Burress said in an email that further reductions to the 2019-20 school year could change based on other sources of revenue, such as state funding and grants.

“I think that in the greater scheme of belt-tightening, that hopefully it’s survivable, especially in comparison to neighboring districts,” said meeting attendee Nicole Chabot. “We should probably consider making some cuts now that we can live with, rather than making dramatic cuts later down the road.”

SBAC will formalize the recommendations at its Jan. 23 meeting, according to Burress.

Staff writer Revati Thatte also contributed to this report.

Jenny Weng covers businesses and economy. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @jennyweng1999.