-- Jason Song | LA Times LA NOW Blog
4:51 PM | June 19, 2009
L.A. Unified School District Supt. Ramon C. Cortines said this afternoon that he wants the district to consider introducing a parcel tax to raise money for education.
Cortines has raised this issue in the past as a partial solution to L.A. Unified's budget woes. The school board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a plan to slash about $130 million from the 2009-10 budget, and Cortines warned that the situation could only get worse in the future.
The superintendent said at a news conference that he hoped the tax, which would need board approval before going to voters, could be put on next spring's ballot. He also said he hoped state legislators would relax rules requiring school districts to submit a balanced budget for three years, something Cortines feels is unrealistic in today's economic climate.
"It's somewhat insane in the unpredictable state we live in," Cortines said.
Cortines also apologized to parents and friends of Kennedy High School students who were kept out of the campus' graduation ceremony Thursday night. Students at the Granada Hills school were each given six tickets to the event, but someone made forgeries. As a result, the bleachers became overcrowded and school district police were forced to close the gates, keeping about 200 people from entering.
LAUSD Kindergarten May Get Cut in Half
By John Gregory
19 June | 10AM - LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Unified teachers have a new contract, but more cuts could be on the way for teachers and school programs.
The district is trying to balance a $131 million budget deficit.
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The proposed cuts keep coming, and so do the protests.
Concerned by LAUSD's efforts to balance its budget by reducing school programs, an Aztec dance troupe protested Friday morning.
"We are very concerned of all the cuts, and we are confident that the board will be able to find a better way," said protester Judith Cuauhdmoc.
LAUSD Board Superintendent Ramon Cortines is talking about cutting back on the kindergarten program, making it a half day instead of a full day starting in 2011.
An increase in class size is proposed, from 20 students to 29 students, and there would be more cuts to arts and music programs within the district.
Cortines said part of the problem is the way the money is allocated by Sacramento. School officials said they don't know how much money will be available in the future.
"I am budgeting for a worst case scenario. I have done that from the beginning. You can't take to the bank hot air and promises, and so I'm looking at the whole issue in a realistic way," he said.
The teachers' union agreed to a new contract on Thursday, one that does not include wage increases.
Union officials said they understand the problem is much bigger than just L.A. Unified.
"California being the seventh largest economy in the world, really is one of the economic engines of the United States, and if California goes under, the rest of the country is going to be in bad shape," said UTLA president A.J. Duffy.
Cortines said he is not giving up on his efforts to find new funding for the district. He is planning to go to the school board to propose a new property tax within the L.A. Unified District, calling it a parcel tax. He will make that proposal at Tuesday's school board meeting.