For principals in Highland Park and Mount Washington, the first day of classes were a time to welcome back students and face new challenges.
Words and Photo: By David Fonseca, Mt Washington/Highland Park Patch | http://bit.ly/rkRl0j
8 Sept 2011 - After only one full day of classes, principals of several local elementary schools said they are already facing the challenges presented by the nearly $408 million in cuts made by the Los Angeles Unified School District Last spring.
For Juan Gonzalez, principal of Garvanza Elementary School, the district's budget crisis meant the elimination of the school's supervisors, who were responsible for monitoring student behavior during lunch and recess hours.
"Today was the first rude awakening point," according to Gonzalez, who said he ended up spending two-and-a-half hours supervising students himself.
Gonzalez joked that the day's extreme heat, which touched 102 degrees, played a key role in slowing down the normally rambunctious elementary school students
"The heat definitely slowed them down," he said. "We just don't have the staff to supervise properly right now."
Marco Nava, principal of Annandale Elementary School, said a lack of supervisors was also felt on his campus.
"Our supervisory staff was really deeply cutback," Nava said. "It's going to be a huge challenge."
Both Nava and Gonzalez said they'll need to ask either parents or teachers to fill the void left by the cuts to their supervisory staffs.
"I'll be asking teachers," Nava said. "Some of them are really happy to do it, others are already feeling really stretched thin."
Like many LAUSD schools that are forced to operate with limited resources, both Garvanza and Annandale often find themselves relying on volunteer groups like the Friends of Annandale Elementary school or the Garvanza Elementary School Parent Center to help fill the gaps.
"We've got a very active parent center at Garvanza," Gonzalez said. "I'll be talking to them on Thursday about the challenges. They've been really awesome."
At Mount Washington Elementary School, Principal Elizabeth Valentino said she was able to anticipate and budget for the need for supervisors last spring.
However, Valentino said that because Mount Washington Elementary opted for an open enrollment process for the 2011 school year, they are currently facing class sizes in the low and mid 30s in both kindergarten and first grade.
"The staffing levels were completely approparite based on our projected enrollment from last spring, but that didn't account for all the extra students we receieved through open enrollment," Valentino said.
According to Valentino, Mount Washington Elementary should be able to hire one or two more teachers within the month to address the large teacher to student ratios.
"In the meantime we've put all our resources in those classrooms: teachers assistants, supervisors. We want to make sure those students are well supported," Valentino said.
This story is part of Patch's nationwide series "Dispatches: The Changing American Dream." Tell us what issues and what local stories go to the heart of your American Dream. Please contact editor David Fonseca at email@example.com.
●●smf: 2¢: Juan Gonzalez, principal of Garvanza Elementary School: "We just don't have the staff to supervise properly right now."
Yard supervision is first and foremost about student safety.. How does one define 'properly'?
There is an implication that parents may be (or are being) ask(ed) to volunteer to replace RIF'ed/laid-off employees. This violates collective bargaining agreements - and (it is my understanding) federal and/or state labor law.
And I am concerned about inadequately supervised kids on the yard in 102 degree heat! See THE LAUSD EXCESSIVE HEAT POLICY - BULLETIN 963 | http://scr.bi/o2olSt
Obviously, if kids' safety is in question - sign me up to help on the yard - but....