By Veronica Hurtado
Members of the East Los Angeles College community met with officials to work in a joint effort to support Governor Brown’s tax extension measure to avoid further educational cuts.
A statewide coalition in support of Governor Brown’s tax extension, Stand Up for California sponsored a series of Kitchen Table Conversations to discuss ways to avoid additional cuts to public services.
Community members, along with the Los Angeles Community College Distrct and the Los Angeles Unified School District school board officials from representing schools in the east and south Los Angeles areas, addressed the current state budget crisis’s negative effects on education.
Community members met with district, county and state officials at the South Gate Civic Museum on May 9 and at the East Los Angeles Community Service Center on May 12.
The meetings were filled with parents, teachers and community activist ready to be informed, voice their concerns and work with officials on a solution to problems.
Community members listened to district officials and representatives paint a grim picture for public education if Governor’s Brown tax extension measure is not put on the ballot in June.
With public education already dealing with $18 billion state budget cuts in the last three years, school districts serving preschool to college students have had to make tough decisions to balance their budgets.
Maria Elena Yepes, board member of the LA county Office of Education, said “18 million translates to cutting $800 from each student from every school budget.”
The LACCD receives about 200,000 students every year with a $1 billion operating budget.
During the first round of budget cuts it lost $25 million in funding and turned away 35,000 students.
Without the tax extension, the LACCD is looking at possibly having to turn away 65,000 students, twice as many as this year.
Miguel Santiago, first vice president of the LACCD board of trustees, said, “Losing 65,000 students would be the equivalent of closing East LA College and one other college of the nine we have in our school system for an entire year just to balance out this budget.”
Since public education for K-12 is required by law not to deny education to anyone, the LAUSD has a budget hole of $408 million and has resorted in giving approximately 10,000 teachers layoff notices to balance their budget.
This loss, to the LAUSD, has meant loss of services to students attending the district and crowded classrooms.
Monica Garcia, president of the LAUSD board, said, “This is not good for our economy, families and it does not help bring up our graduating rates.”
If schools do not receive tax extension monies, there is a potential to layoff 20,000 teachers which will include fist time teachers and those with seniority.
“The downward spiral is very dangerous for our community and for our children, because if they don’t have the appropriate support in school for them to succeed, they will drop out. The drop-out rate will increase because they will not have that face-to-face intimate contact with their teachers,” said Yepes.
Under these economic pressures, Garcia said, “there is an education crisis (where) we want to work with you. We want to rescind all the layoff notices we have sent out in the LAUSD, and in order to have that happen, we need the state of California to extend the taxes.”
Garcia said, “We need parents’ participation in school sites, community and at the ballot box. We need to continue informing people”
Community members also had the opportunity to voice their concerns over budget and political transparency and teacher accountability at the LAUSD.