Flickr photo by Jason Evans
Amid protest signs and tearful pleas, school boards in San Francisco and Los Angeles approved budgets this week that will result in more furlough days and pink slips.
With operating costs going up, $1,171 less funding per student than in 2008 and an overall shortfall of $113 million, San Francisco Unified's board approved a budget that will reduce summer school, art programs and employees, while forcing all district administrators to take five unpaid days off during the 2010-11 school year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Upwards of 900 teachers could be laid off next year to boot.
Meanwhile, down south, a deficit of some $640 million made the LA Board of Education resolute in approving spending cuts, despite the passionate pleas of teachers and others who decided to protest at the meeting.
While school workers waved hulking placards with "Save Our Schools" painted across the sides, the board voted 6-1 to approve the budget filled with crippling spending reductions.
So starting July 1, between 2,700 to 4,000 LA Unified School District employees could begin to be laid off, according to the LA Daily News. The recent news comes days after the district announced that this year had fewer teacher job losses than originally expected. As one union leader told the Daily News on Tuesday, many LA teachers foresee hard times in the near future:
Susan Gosman, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the California School Employee Association, said her union is expected to lose some 1,500 members while another 1,000 have been placed on a 10-month work calendar, reducing their salaries by about 15 percent.
'We are the infrastructure of this district. We keep student records, track students, administer special education services,' Gosman said.
'Without us, schools will fall apart.'
The goings-on in LA and San Francisco ensure that the state's budget woes will continue to reverberate in Sacramento and in court. At least one columnist has stumbled across a solution to stem the bleeding. In calling for an end to corporate welfare,
None of this means that business incentives are necessarily bad or that some may not indeed promote job growth. But the budget disaster requires every program to be measured against competing priorities, and corporate welfare hasn't gotten enough scrutiny.
What could we do with all that money? The $100 million spent on Hollywood could maintain any of several Medi-Cal benefits the governor proposes to cut. The $500 million spent on enterprise zones could save half of CalWORKS, and $1 billion from a severance tax could save all of it, benefiting a billion children. Eliminate some of these questionable programs, and more could be spent on the schools and the universities.
We're constantly being told that in these straitened times, we need to make hard choices. So where should our money go – to Warner Bros., to the membership of the Chamber of Commerce, or to the schools, the poor and the sick?