Remember when Spark News discussed the satisfaction level of teachers and how it has dropped heavily over the past couple of years? Recent reports by the Los Angeles Times has offered more insight into the difficulties teachers face and how drastic budget cuts affect their happiness and their jobs in general. Under pressure to cut the school system’s budget, the Los Angeles Board of Education approved a preliminary, worst-case scenario budget of $6 billion this past Tuesday. If passed and approved, the tighter budget could cut thousands of jobs as well as school programs for adults and arts and after-school programs for students.
While the budget that has been planned and discussed has made a lot of news, the final budget does not have to be finished until June 30. The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest in the country and is under pressure to cut at least $390 million from the budget for next year. Fortunately, the deficit that Superintendent John Deasy presented to the board was a bit lower and less severe than the deficit he presented a month ago. In fact, since projections from last month the deficit lowered by $180 million as certain projected cuts were restored such as transportation and state lottery revenue was higher than initially expected.
With the lower deficit, certain programs such as career and technical training for high school students and the busing that gets students to and from school has been able to maintain. Most importantly, the class size for kindergarten to eighth-grade can remain around the same numbers. In the post on teacher satisfaction, an increased class size was a big reason many teachers were dissatisfied with their work. An increase in workload that doesn’t coincide with an increase in pay is like to make any employee dissatisfied.
Even though the deficit is lower than initially expected, the projected budget presented by the board could still cut a lot of jobs and important school programs. If the budget plan that was presented this past Tuesday is passed, all of the district’s adult schools would be closed and the teachers, employees and administrators from those schools would be let go. There are roughly 1,800 teachers working in those schools now that would be out of a job. Furthermore, the district’s program for the gifted and talented students (GATE) would lose all of its funding along with the Academic Decathlon program.
The lay-offs of close to 2,000 teachers is difficult to hear, but Deasy attributed some of the blame to the teachers of United Teachers Los Angeles, the local union for teachers. If the union drops their arbitration on furloughs, then there could be another $60 million dropped from the district’s deficit. With dropping this action, the adult school programs could continue as and more money would be distributed back into the schools.
It is difficult to stay optimistic in a situation where the education of children is slightly at risk. With large budget cuts, schools in Los Angeles’ district could suffer greatly, as well as the adults that currently take part in the courses the district offers to them. However, if the deficit can be further lowered and the budget for next year expanded just a bit, then the optimism for this district and the sound education for the students in it can remain a bit longer.