L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy painted a stark budget picture at today's first board meeting of the year — a $543 million budget shortfall for the next academic year, plus the possibility that thousands of employees could face layoffs, whole school programs could be cut, and months of school could be lost.
"Quite simply we've reached the point where there is not a single solitary thing in this budget that can and should be reduced," Deasy said. "I actually believe, at this point, that the rights of youth are completely imperiled, if not outright violated, by the continued cuts in public education in the state of California."
At Tuesday's board meeting, Deasy's presentation went from dark to depressing, as he outlined the possible scenarios the nation's second-largest district faces, depending on whether an initiative to raise taxes that the governor is trying to put on the November ballot is approved by voters.
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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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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.
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."