By Jason KUROSU
The state’s financial problems and its effects on education have become a recurring theme in the Glendale Unified School District’s Board of Education meetings. As with the recession, California’s budget cuts have engendered much talk of worst case scenarios in order to prepare those involved for ominous possibilities.
However, these concerns were set aside at the outset of the meeting to address people going through exceptionally tougher times than Californians. The board welcomed Mr. Minoru Tanaka and six students from Nisshin High School in Osaka, Japan, the sister city of Glendale. A moment of silence was held for the victims of the disastrous events taking place throughout Japan.
As the meeting resumed, the usual topics of potential large scale financial reductions to the district were revisited. Two key factors were highlighted by Chief Business and Financial Officer Eva Lueck which could alter the seemingly hazardous landscape that is the district’s future: the passage of the bond measure Measure S, in Glendale’s municipal election on April 5 and the passage of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed tax extensions in June.
Measure S has been a familiar topic within the District. The Board’s Public Communications portion of the meeting, in which those in attendance can speak before the Board and the audience, was a nearly continuous outpouring of support for the measure. Parents, students, educators and school administrators have been vocal in their support of the measure.
However, Glendale Teacher’s Association President Tami Carlson, who had previously shown to be wary of the measure, renewed her concerns when she spoke before the board.
Addressing another speaker’s concerns about class sizes and reductions in the amount of teachers, oft-voiced concerns, Carlson said, “Measure S money cannot be used to reduce class sizes or pay for teachers.”
Measure S can, however, be used to free up money from the state’s General Fund, and Carlson implored that “a portion of this money that is freed up be used to maintain class sizes.”
Amiee Klein, a parent, replied directly to Carlson, hoping to address her concerns about teacher cuts.
“We’re not going to forget about the teachers after Measure S hopefully passes.”
Klein went on to suggest that a parcel tax, which the GTA would be in favor of over a bond measure, “would only help the teachers and not the schools as a whole … California is in a financial crisis. We can all agree that our children should not be punished for that. We have to let our children know that we think they’re more important than money.”
Some potential fruits of Measure S’s money, which would be used to bolster the schools’ facilities and technology, were displayed in a video showing Roosevelt Middle School’s new 5000 building. The building is outfitted with smart boards and other innovative technology. The video showcased the building and also featured interviews from teachers and students, all giving glowing reviews about the new building.
Students expressed wishes that all their classes be in the 5000 building and a teacher recalled students asking her to give them more quiz questions so that they could further interact with the new technology.
“I’ve never had students ask me for more quiz questions,” the teacher said emphatically.
While the passage of Measure S is left in the hands of Glendale’s voters, it is feared that the June tax extensions may not even make it on the June ballot.
Lueck spoke about “not hearing positive things from Sacramento” on the topic of getting the tax extensions on the ballot.
While analyzing the district’s financial situation, Lueck reiterated that the passage of Measure S and the tax extensions would be key for the district to meet the superintendent’s priorities: no additional layoffs to base staffing, reducing/eliminating furlough days and maintaining K-3rd grade staffing at 24 students per class.
The governor’s budget cuts have certainly become a recurring theme to discussions within the district. An additional theme would be general uncertainty.