So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

LAUSD examines plan to up student enrollment

An empty classroom

BES Photos/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

A typical classroom.

Superintendent John Deasy painted an ominous picture of the school district's budget for the coming year at Tuesday's LAUSD board meeting. The district is looking at a $543 million budget deficit for 2012-13. He raised the possibility of putting a parcel tax before voters on the November ballot to help raise revenue for schools. If Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed 2012 budget is approved and his initiative to temporarily increase taxes is passed by voters in November, the district would receive about $237 million in state funding, Deasy said. If not, K-12 education would be cut by $4.8 billion. Thousands of employees could face layoffs, entire programs could be cut, and months of school might be lost, Deasy told boardmembers.

The board unanimously approved a resolution (6-0, board member Bennett Kayser wasn't present) to examine expanding magnet school, dual immersion and IB program enrollment to remedy the district's declining enrollment numbers. The district also agreed look at expanding Gifted and Talented Education testing to all students, not just those whose parents or teachers ask. The resolution also asks the district to review the risks and benefits of allowing families the ability to choose multiple magnet schools (instead of just one) during the application process.

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What's happening at today's LAUSD board meeting

Mercer 15435

MGShelton/Flickr (by cc_nc_nd)

It's the first week of school after the holidays for LAUSD students (welcome back), and board members will also be returning to work with today's first board meeting of the new year.

A few scheduled highlights:

• Supt. John Deasy will give an update on the district's budget situation. This was supposed to be the day Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his proposed 2012 budget. But with its accidental release last Thursday, today's meeting is going to instead deal with the response. LAUSD spokesman Tom Waldman said we should hear about some ways the district is looking to raise revenue.

• The board will also deal with two resolutions that both seek to remedy the district's declining enrollment numbers.

One resolution (which will be introduced today in advance of a vote next week) proposes to do away with the enrollment boundaries for L.A. Unified neighborhood schools to give parents more flexibility and allow them to select a school within the district that fits their child's needs.

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California's community colleges change their priorities

California University Cuts

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott, told lawmakers that budget cuts to the community colleges, have increased class size and made it more difficult for students to get into classes while appearing before a joint Legislative hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Dec. 7, 2009.

At the California Community Colleges — the world's largest such system with 112 campuses serving about 2.6 million students — only about 54 percent of the students earn a certificate, a degree or transfer to a four-year institution.

That number drops further for students who are African-American (42 percent) or Latino (43 percent).

Here's another stat: Last year 137,000 students were flat-out turned away by the system. They couldn't even get into one course.

Well, no longer. Or that's what the system hopes.

The governing board of the Californa Community Colleges approved a set of reforms (22, to be exact) Monday that aims to streamline the path to student graduation, certification and transfers. Recommendations include prioritizing registration and fee-waivers for students who have declared these education goals.

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CTA president: Current education funding method is a guarantee to 'keep us at awful'

California Budget

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the cuts he has already made to help reduce the state's budget deficit from nearly $20 billion last year to a gap of about $9.2 billion as he unveiled his proposed $92.5 billion 2012-13 state budget at a Capitol news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012. California faces a smaller budget deficit in the coming fiscal year but will require nearly $5 billion in cuts to public education if voters reject Brown's plan to raise taxes in the fall.

The California Teachers Association president said Friday the state's current approach to education funding is a "guarantee to keep us at awful."

"Even though everybody is talking about protecting public education, the reality is protecting public education at current levels basically is a guarantee to keep us at awful," said CTA President Dean Vogel speaking passionately about the issue Friday.

Gov. Jerry Brown's 2012 budget proposal, which was released Thursday, hinges on whether voters approve a tax increase he is trying to put on the November ballot. If not, it would cut a total of $5.2 billion in public education funds: $4.8 billion from K-12 and community colleges funding, and $200 million each from the Cal State University and University of California systems.

"It doesn't matter how you look at it, and it doesn't matter which budget you look at," Vogel said. "It underscores the very real, just dramatic affects that this loss of revenue has had, not only on public education, but all basic community infrastructure needs...That revenue has to be part of the solution. You can't balance the kind of deficits that we've been dealing with by continually cutting."

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