Woodland Hills Approves Tax Hike, Cuts Boyce Program in New Budget
The board approved the new budget Wednesday night.
After months of discussions and numerous proposals, Woodland Hills School Board is raising taxes, initiating furloughs and cutting the Boyce Campus Middle College program as part of its new budget, which was approved Wednesday night.
The $81.18 million budget passed in a 5 to 3 vote, which included raising taxes by 0.56 mill. While the BCMC program was cut, board members noted that it allowed the district to save much of the core programming in other schools.
Board members said they will see little left over in their reserves for next year.
“Districts have had to make sharp painful cuts,” said Substitute Superintendent Al Johnson. “Our program hasn’t fundamentally changed—that’s the good news.”
Johnson said around 10 staff members from the high school will lose their jobs to furloughs, along with several others from the middle and elementary schools.
The room was heated as the board members made their points for and against the budget. The main concern of board member Robert Tomasic, who voted no on the budget, included deficit spending and the tax increase, which marks the first the school district has made in four years.
“The more you increase taxes, the more you hurt the municipality,” Tomasic said.
The school district made what Johnson estimates to be $2 million in cuts from the budget before it was approved Wednesday. However, the board did not go through with previously proposed cuts to kindergarten programs or bus service for kids K through sixth.
“We are deficit spending over $5.5 million," said board member Colleen Filliak, who voted no on the budget. "Next year at this time, we’ll be so far up the creek without a paddle it’s ridiculous."
School Board President Marilyn Messina reminded the board that with state cuts to education, every school district is being forced to make hard decisions, pointing out that many of the programs, including music and art, were not cut.
Messina said her priority is keeping as many programs open for the students as possible.
During public comment, one resident brought up the fact that next year, the school district will have to make some difficult decisions.
Messina responded, stating, “The changes will have to be made—or we won’t have a district anymore.”