By Mary O’KEEFE
In a series of community meetings, the Glendale Unified School District is informing the public of the reality of education in California and what that means to local schools.
And what it means is staff reductions and more kids in classrooms.
“We are going to be making reductions [in 2013-14],” said Eva Lueck, GUSD chief business and financial officer. “And [kindergarten] through third [grade] will [probably] increase to a 30-to-one ratio. We will [most likely] be increasing ratios at the secondary level by one or two students per classroom.”
The district is targeting a $10 million cut for the 2013-14 school year.
This latest budget cut is just one in a series that the district has taken in the last several years. At first the budget reductions were kept away from the classroom by consolidation of positions. However, with continuing reductions it became more difficult to keep the effects out of the classroom. Now the cuts will go deeper, affecting the everyday life of students.
With 90 percent of the district’s budget going toward personnel, we must cut jobs, Lueck said.
The district is in negotiations with the Glendale Teachers Association however, “they have already made concessions with furlough days and health care,” she added.
If the district increases the number of students in classrooms in kindergarten through third grade to 30 students to one teacher, the teacher reduction would be at 75. If secondary schools are affected and classrooms are increased by two students, that would add about 25 teachers. There may be some other changes with teacher’s specialists that would add to the overall lay offs.
Early retirement will be offered to some teachers. Lueck said about 350 teachers qualify but she does not know how many will find it worthwhile to retire due to their years of service and pension. The district is in negotiations with the union on this issue as well.
There will not be any last minute reprieve from the state with found money. The California budget does not appear to be healthy enough to fill the education gap. Lueck said through the years she has seen the state’s overall budget and realizes that several programs across the board are being cut.
GUSD is not the only educational institution that is feeling the effects of the budget cuts and looking for the ways to save. Both Glendale Community College and Pasadena City College have cut their winter sessions.
This is the second year GCC will not be offering a winter schedule, said Ron Nakasone, executive vice president of administration services for GCC. “The decision was financial,” Nakasone said.
He added it would affect students in their quest for classes, especially those that have a prerequisite.
The competition for required classes is great and now with one semester down it will be even more difficult, Nakasone said.
He advises students to have a plan for their time at college and for transferring to four-year schools. The goal is for students to get an early registration date and make certain to register on that date.
PCC district board of trustees approved the new three-term schedule – fall, spring and summer – in August.
“The three-term schedule will allow PCC to better service students and help them with their educational goals,” said Dr. Robert Bell, senior vice president, PCC Academic and Student Affairs. “The return to an earlier spring semester will give the college the ability to offer the classes that students need the most to matriculate.”
But with the cancelation of the winter classes, many students will find it difficult if not impossible to get through community college in the traditional two years. It is already difficult for students to register for needed classes.
The $10 million budget reduction for GUSD is an estimate that assumes Propositions 30 and or 38 will pass. Both propositions are on the November 2012 ballot.
Proposition 30, if approved, will add an estimated $6 billion to kindergarten through college. Proposition 38, if approved, will add an estimated $10 billion to kindergarten to 12th grade.
“GCC is supporting Prop. 30 although, if approved, it will not provide additional funds this year,” Nakasone said. “If Prop. 30 doesn’t pass, we will see a $4.6 million cut in the budget mid-year. If it doesn’t pass community colleges, UC [University of California] and CSU [California State University] schools will be in [trouble].”
If the propositions do not pass, the Glendale district will be joining other districts in the state to reduce the number of school days by 15, said Lueck.
Two more community information meetings are scheduled. One is at Glendale High School on Monday, Oct. 15 and the other at Hoover High School on Monday, Oct. 22. Both meetings are from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the schools’ auditorium.