School board moves on budget cuts

With teachers and Burlingame School District officials finalizing a proposed two-year contract, district board members began the process of deciding what to cut from the budget to afford the agreement at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

Last month, Superintendent Sonny DaMarto presented board members with a list of possible items to cut from the budget to meet its self-mandated 7 percent reserve. The list totaled $1.3 million and was divided into three tiers based on priority. On Tuesday, board members praised the agreed contract with teachers, noting that it gave a better idea as to how much would have to be cut.

“Some difficult cuts will be made to fund the agreement but we have important teachers and staff members that we want to compensate at the highest level possible,” said district board president Dave Pine, who added that budget cut negotiations may last a few months.

Pine said the board would have to pull $200,000 from this year’s budget to fund the contract, which included a 3 percent retroactive pay raise — a deal the teachers association approved Friday.

Board members anticipated Tuesday that the first two tiers of proposed cuts will be approved but items in Tier 3 will be harder to decide. While Tiers 1 and 2 total more than $720,000 in cuts to mostly transportation stipends and peripheral programs like seminars, they do not include cuts to staffing. Tier 3 includes funding for a clerical and library position, a physical education position and a psychologist position, among others.

“Those will be the toughest because those are the ones that come closest to the classroom,” board trustee Liz Gindraux said.

Prior to reaching the agreement, teachers were seen picketing for raises on several occasions. Annette DeMaria, president of the Burlingame Education Association, said while other “revenue-limit” districts such as Bayshore, San Carlos and Millbrae provided at least five-percent pay raises for teachers, Burlingame teachers were seeking “the same respect.”

bfoley@examiner.com

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