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Local school districts face budget cuts due to COVID-19 pandemic

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As schools across California face multimillion-dollar deficits for next year, one local district is doing its best to keep budget cuts away from the classroom.

The Bakersfield City School District has spent several weeks weighing what to keep and what to cut.

“We can’t fund everything next year,” said Assistant Superintendent of business services, Sherry Gladin.

Her team has been working around the clock, crafting a budget without knowing the state’s final numbers.

“When you expect a 10% reduction in the budget, there will have to be cuts implemented,” said Gladin.

As it stands today, the district projects an 8.8 million dollar deficit for the 2020-2021 school year. 

However, Deputy Superintendent Mark Luque stresses this will not directly affect the children. 

“We’re not losing electives, we’re not losing teachers, and we’re going to see that impact on the classroom level,” said Luque.

Still, make no mistake; the losses will be felt elsewhere.

The proposed cuts include freezes on filling vacant positions, administrative travel, and an increase in class size in fourth through sixth grade. 

“We believe that student increase, while it will affect staff, will not be as detrimental as some of the other proposals,” said Luque.

The district also faces millions in added costs to keep their students safe.

They are hoping that state and federal aid, like the Heros Act, can offset some of the financial burdens. 

“Those heroes that dollars are going to support the escalating costs to maintain clean facilities, sanitize our school buildings, and provide the necessary PPE,”  said Luque.

One of these highest proposed costs would be adding a nurse to every school site. 

However, Luque says that regardless of the school’s aid, the school’s commitment to the classroom will stay the same.

“The Bakersfield City School District has taken a proactive approach to ensure that we do not eliminate programs or services at the classroom level,” said Luque.

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