John Deasy, head of the Los Angeles Unified School District
Superintendent John Deasy will unveil the proposed LAUSD budget at today's board meeting with a shortfall greater than expected at $570 million. There are proposed cuts to early education programs, the academic decathlon, science centers, band, and adult education, according to a board staff member who was informed of the proposals Monday.
"It's ugly. Absolutely awful unless we get some help," the board staff member said. "Everything that is good about education that keeps people in schools is going."
The board staff member stressed that the details of the budget may have changed since they were informed, as it is a work in progress.
The budget proposal will be voted on at next week's board meeting. Between now and then it is expected to change a number of times as the board members debate what is or is not a necessary cut.
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KPCC radio reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez sends over his notes on Wednesday night's Inglewood meeting:
Led by their union president, a group of Inglewood Unified classified employees voiced their opposition to a cost cutting plan at the scheduled school board meeting Wednesday night. Union president Jameer Ali told board members during public comment that a plan to cut $7 million to qualify for a loan to fend of bankruptcy is misguided. Ali recommended the board give up its mileage stipend. “We can say that you guys are concerned with the district and are stepping forward and then employees will not have a problem with that,” he said.
The 12,000 student school district faces a large budget deficit that county and state education officials warn is pushing it into bankruptcy by the summer. The board is proposing a plan to recoup some of the thousands of students the district has lost in the last few years. Magic Johnson Enterprises is proposing that the district award it a contract to run one such program. The company’s chief of marketing, Gerald Johnson said the program could recoup at least 150 students and the state funding the comes to the district. “The idea is that we want to leverage the power of the Magic Johnson brand, we want to leverage the fact that Magic Johnson Enterprises and the Magic Johnson Foundation has been in local communities around the country for years, he said.
Finance officials with the L.A. County Office of Education are monitoring the district’s finances. They say board members need to take drastic measures to avoid a state take over if the district goes bankrupt.
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teachers get to the point
Milca Ruz, a third grade teacher at Garvanza Elementary School in northeast L.A. probably spends about $4,000 of her own money on school supplies each year.
Ruz, 39, has been a teacher since 1996. These days her worry is printer paper. She is allotted two boxes, or 10,000 sheets, a year. Only a few months into the school year, she's working her way through the second box. With continuing budget cuts, a new reading and language arts curriculum, and not enough books, she uses a lot of paper making copies so students can do grammar exercises.
Well, here's a happy ending for once. Thanks to a unique partnership between the district and the Wasserman Foundation, which launched in November, Ruz and other teachers like her, have received hundreds of dollars to pay for supplies.
To date, teachers have received more than $2 million in donations from parents under this partnership; teachers have used the money to buy school supplies ranging from crayons to digital cameras, said Lydia Ramos, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
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."
The incoming head of the Los Angeles Unified School District, John Deasy, speaks to the media while students line up for a security check upon their arrival at Gardena High School in Gardena, Calif. on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011. The high school where a gun went off in a student's backpack and wounded two classmates failed to use a metal-detector to check youngsters as required, Deasy, said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy gave a few more details on a possible parcel tax to KPCC this morning. He said though it is premature to say exactly how much it would ask people to pay, it is probably in the range of $200 to $300 a year per parcel, to try to close the district's budget gap and raise money for schools.
"The range will be determined by the gap," Deasy said. It's not a political decision...it's about necessity."
The nation's second-largest district faces a $543 million budget shortfall and the potential of more cuts if an initiative Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to put before voters to raise taxes is not approved. The governor's proposed 2012 budget presumes these initiatives would pass; otherwise public education would be hit by $4.8 billion in cuts.
The initiative would temporarily increase sales tax by one-and-a-half percent and income taxes on people earning more than $250,000. The increases would expire in 2017.