by Joel Rubin, LA Times Staff Writer
The unanimous vote came after the seven board members peppered Supt. David L. Brewer and other school district officials with questions and concerns during lengthy debate that spanned two meetings this week.
The budget, which calls for the reduction and reorganization of several programs and departments in the mammoth school district in order to close a $95-million shortfall, still must be certified by county education officials. And until the state Legislature finalizes
Faced with growing public criticism, Brewer relented somewhat on a proposal to recoup nearly $5 million by charging after-school youth groups to use district athletic fields and facilities. He agreed to lower the fees that will be imposed and to use a sliding scale so groups that serve low-income children pay less.
Brewer also scrambled to appease some board members' concerns about his proposal to reduce at midyear the number of teachers assigned to those schools where student enrollment drops. To help administrators keep staffing levels stable at such schools, Brewer agreed to free up some so-called restricted funds and to allow schools to put aside money at the start of the year.
AN OPEN LETTER TO SUPERINTENDENT BREWER AND THE BOARD OF EDUCATION
Please excuse this last minute appeal - I have just returned from vacation to discover that "Pay to Play" has - like a bad penny - returned to LAUSD as a budget cutting strategy.
Two plus years ago I delivered to the Board of Ed the following resolution from PTA, opposing charging fees for after school use of school playgrounds and facilities. Afterwards I apologized to John Liechty, who as the Beyond the Bell assistant superintendent was official advocate for the fees. I considered John the most knowledgeable and most "for kids" person at Beaudry - I was uncomfortable opposing him on this matter.
John looked at me square in the eye with his no nonsense glare and told me PTA and I was on the right side and his and the budget office's proposal was wrong; wrong for Beyond the Bell, wrong for LAUSD and wrong for kids.
With that endorsement I bring the resolution back to you - and suggest that subsidizing after school recreation programs is a mission not for program operators but for city government, private fundraising, the Chamber of Commerce, etc. The board rejected the proposal back ion '05, I ask that you do it again.
Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA
NO PAY TO PLAY: A Resolution of the
WHEREAS the LAUSD Budget Office proposes that Community, Youth, After School and Weekend Community Groups – including but not limited to Girl and Boy Scouts, PTA and other parent and community associations, nonprofit after school supplemental education, recreation and sports programs that have traditionally used LAUSD facilities for free – be charged a fee in the future for such use, and
WHEREAS these groups and programs provide incalculable value to the children of Los Angeles, providing safe and supervised programs that enhance and compliment the educational mission of the school district, and
WHEREAS District staff has demonstrated preference for adult recreation and sports programs that pay a fee over youth programs that traditionally do not because adult programs generate revenue, and
WHEREAS Schools are by statute and by district policy Centers of the Community they serve, all School District property is public property, and the public is entitled to the use of its property whenever possible, now
THEREFORE THE LOS ANGELES TENTH DISTRICT PTSA RESOLVES
1. That we are OPPOSED to charging any bona-fide nonprofit community, parent or youth group that serves the public good for use of
2. That the Board of Education direct that Youth After School and Recreation Programs be given precedence over adult groups in scheduling and access to LAUSD property without consideration to whether the adult programs generate revenue — the value of these programs to the schoolchildren served and the greater community far exceeds any revenue generated or lost.
3. That the
4. That this resolution be delivered to the LAUSD Board of Education, circulated to the units and councils of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and forwarded to Thirty-first District PTSA for their consideration
Motion made by Scott Folsom, Vice President for Education, as a recommendation of the Education Committee/No second required
Voted upon and adopted by the Executive Board at a regular meeting
/s/ Marta Lear, President and Chair of the Executive Board
/s/ Martha Wenkel. Secretary
ON PAY TO PLAY: WHERE ARE THE ANGELS?
"…so that groups that serve low income children pay less?" How about nothing?
If this city can't come up with five million dollars a year – from the private or public sectors - so kids can play organized sports on school playgrounds after school and on weekends without charging volunteers, non-profits and/or the kids and their parents for use of facilities we the taxpayers already own Los Angeles deserves the gang problems we have and we are simply not worthy to be the great city we aspire to be. There are billionaires among us who find that kind of money in their washing machines after a couple of loads – or between the pillows of their couches. —smf