●●smf: …because after the Mayan end-of-time morality will be different?
By Barbara Jones Staff Writer/LA Daily News,Daily Breeze | http://bit.ly/srXt90
12/13/2011 :: Vowing to fight "immoral" reductions in state funding, LAUSD's chief has crafted a complex strategy that would defer millions of dollars in cuts until next year - when programs like adult and early-childhood education could be gutted - and use the courts to block the disruption of student busing.
The California Department of Financial is set to announce Tuesday whether the state has generated an additional $4 billion in revenue. A shortfall would trigger up to $2 billion in cuts to social services, universities and public schools, including $188 million for Los Angeles Unified.
"It's unconscionable, it's immoral, it's hard to understand," district Superintendent John Deasy said of the cuts included in the budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. "It's beyond anger. It's disbelief."
While some school districts plan to use cash reserves to back-fill cuts in their budgets, Los Angeles Unified has just $65.4 million set aside for economic uncertainly - not enough to plug the gap.
Deasy hopes, therefore, to ask a judge to block a $38 million cut to student busing, a system he said is key to complying with court orders to desegregate schools and serve special-education students.
"I am not leaving children with special needs without transportation come January or violate the consent decree about segregation," he said in a phone interview.
"These cuts deny transportation and present a clear and present ... an imminent clear and present danger to students. I don't have to explain what it's like to walk across some parts of this city."
Los Angeles Unified also faces the loss of up to $150 million in its instructional programs - cuts that Deasy hopes to defer to the 2012-13 school year. Although that would add to a future deficit already forecast to top several hundred million dollars, it would give the district more time to decide how to balance its $6 billion-plus budget.
Deasy said he can't find more cost savings this year because the Legislature and governor prohibited the midyear layoffs of teachers and staff.
"That was part of the trigger law, so there's no place left to cut," Deasy said. "They know it. We know it."
The 2012-13 school year is another matter, however. While Deasy said he doesn't want to reduce staff - "we shouldn't be laying off a single soul" - the district would have more flexibility in reducing costs.
That could include increasing class size, trimming support programs and taking a hard look at the district's 24 community adult schools, 102 early education centers and other programs outside of the K-12 core.
"It's a very painful process to look at all of these," Deasy said.
School board member Tamar Galatzan noted that the district has cut $2 billion from its budget over the last three years, and is running out of options for making more cuts.
"We don't have a lot of good choices here," Galatzan said.
"The core mission is to educate K-12. Everyone knows that if you prepare kids in preschool for kindergarten, they do better in school. We know that students who drop out use our adult-ed programs to get their GED.
"These programs are really important, they augment and make our K-12 services strong and more comprehensive. Unfortunately, the state doesn't want to pay for them."
School board member Nury Martinez said she would support Deasy in his effort to file a lawsuit to preserve the transportation program.
"I think these are technical cuts that violate the rights of our kids, the most vulnerable students - those in special education - and those participating in magnet schools."
United Teachers Los Angeles declined to comment on the trigger cuts. Its members are voting this week on a proposed contract that would give greater autonomy to local schools.
Professor Charles Kerchner, a research professor at Claremont Graduate University who has studied Los Angeles Unified, said the trigger cuts come at an inopportune time in the district's efforts to improve student achievement.
"Not that people in LAUSD have done everything right historically, but they've been whacked horribly in the last four years," he said. "With $188 million in cuts, they will lack the capacity for reform."
Two tiers of state budget cuts
Depending on revenue projections to be released today, the state has established two tiers of budget cuts that would be triggered.
|TIER 1: The first tier calls for $601 million in cuts to universities, social services and public safety programs.|
|California State University:||$100 million|
|University of California:||$100 million|
|Department of Developmental Services:||$100 million|
|In-Home Supportive Services:||$100 million|
|Juvenile justice:||$72.1 million|
|Community college fees:||$30 million|
|Child care:||$20 million|
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation:
|Library grants:||$15.9 million|
|Prosecution grants:||$10 million|
In-Home Supportive Services, anti-fraud efforts:
|TIER 2: A more dire revenue outlook would trigger an additional $1.9 billion in cuts, impacting community colleges, public schools and their transportation programs.|
Reduce school year by seven days:
(equivalent) $1.54 billion
|Home-to-school transportation:||$248 million|
|Community college allocations:||$72 million|