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

California's revised budget: Public higher education faces continued budget crunch

Gov. Jerry Brown

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference on May 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Brown proposes $8.3 billion cuts in California to help close a projected $16 billion budget shortfall.

It’s time to hold your nose and take a hard swallow. As Governor Jerry Brown disclosed the latest revised budget for the state, he said it’s time for Californians to take their medicine. The projected budget deficit has hit almost $16 billion, far greater than officials anticipated just five months ago.

That'll mean some "painful cuts" for the state's higher education institutions. 

That is unless voters pass a tax initiative intended to maintain the state’s public school budget at its present level. That still keeps California’s higher education spending well below Kentucky’s, Mississippi’s, and West Virginia’s.
If the tax ballot measure fails, the University of California and California State systems would each receive $250 million less than they did this year. That’s $50 million more in cuts than projected back in January.

Lars Walton, a vice chancellor at UC Irvine, said the cuts project a bleak future ahead for the UC system alongside with administrative cuts it’s already made.

"We’ve laid off, system wide, 4,400 employees," says Walton. "Eliminated close to 4,000 positions, deferred academic hiring, cut academic programs, and certainly that has pulled back the university as far as we can go. So there’s little that we can do anymore in terms of wiggle room on the edges."

The Cal State system also operates on the fiscal edge. At Cal State Long Beach, the school faces a deficit of about $34 million according to President King Alexander.

"That’s equivalent to us basically closing the entire College of Business and the entire College of Engineering," he said. 

In preparation for more reductions, Alexander said all 23 Cal State campuses have already closed enrollment for the Spring 2013 semester. That means Cal state schools won’t admit any transfer students mid-year. The system’s also considering waitlisting the entire incoming class for the 2013 Fall semester.

The situation is just as dire at community colleges. Jonathan Lightman is executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges. He hopes that the potential consequences of state budget cuts will move voters in November.  


Gov. Jerry Brown meets with White House officials for waivers on education, health care

Kitty Felde/KPCC

Gov. Jerry Brown stands away from other Democratic governors at the White House.

Gov. Jerry Brown and his fellow Democratic governors from around the country met this morning with President Barack Obama. The governor says he wants less government regulation from the feds.

Brown wants more flexibility on two of the biggest money issues for California: health care for the poor and education. He says, "We need some waivers from the federal government to make my job more efficient and effective in California."

Brown met with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to talk about relief from some of the requirements of the 2002 No Child Left Behind law. The federal government has granted a waiver to 10 states, but California didn’t apply, concerned it couldn’t afford the more than $2 billion required to make enough reforms to earn the waiver.

Under No Child, failing schools could face mass transfers of students, conversion to charters or a state takeover. Brown says he’s “optimistic” he can work out a compromise with Washington on both No Child Left Behind and Medi-Cal requirements.


It's gotten bad: Budget issues literally push one school official to her hands and knees

Before the pledge, she got down on her hands and knees in front of the horseshoe and began a prayer to God — asking for forgiveness and asking for all in the room to repent for their sins.

That's how Inglewood Unified School Board vice president Trina Williams started the district's first meeting of the year, reports my KPCC colleague Adolfo Guzman-Lopez.

The night apparently didn't get any less dramatic, as the board discussed the likelihood that it would run out of money in the next few months and be forced to declare bankruptcy. That would likely mean the state would strip the school board of its powers and take over the operations of the 12,000-student district.

Guzman-Lopez reported over KPCC's airwaves today:

"The district expects an $18 million deficit by the end of this fiscal year. The superintendent recommended taking out loans, freezing expenses and laying off employees. Inglewood schools have already dismissed 223 workers, mostly teachers, to cut the deficit. The teachers’ union president said a declaration of bankruptcy and a state takeover would stem the flow of red ink."