LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Wednesday night was a tough one for LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy, who tried to convince parents and homeowners that a steep tax was necessary to balance the district’s massive budget.
Deasy said that the school district is so desperately underfunded, that only a $270 annual parcel tax on homeowners in the district can guarantee a full school year. If both his tax proposal and that of Governor Jerry Browns’s were to fail, Deasy warned that the students will be shortchanged.
Deasy said that the school district is so desperately underfunded, that only a $270 annual parcel tax on homeowners in the district can guarantee a full school year. If both taxes fail, Deasy warned that the students will be shortchanged.
“The governor’s failure would mean three weeks less school. Ours would mean another three weeks less of school. So you’re talking about losing two months of school — horrific or bad,” Deasy said.
Deasy began the job of selling the LAUSD parcel tax to voters at an education town hall meeting in Woodland Hills sponsored by the L.A. Daily News and moderated by columnist Doug McIntyre.
The small auditorium was packed and many parents and homeowners were conflicted about the proposed parcel tax.
“If you vote for it, you’re voting against your best interest, because if you have property, you’re voting to raise your taxes. If you want to support the schools, you’re voting, it’s an oxymoron in a sense, because it’s conflicting,” homeowner Tracy Haynes said.
At the meeting questions were directed at Deasy about the parcel tax and the campaign to pass it.
“My question is, even though the parcel tax is very important, can we get a guarantee from you that the children will not be used as a vehicle to help push that parcel tax,” one woman asked.
Deasy assured her that the schoolchildren wouldn’t be used to promote the ballot measure, which he hopes to put before the voters on either the June ballot or November.
But the parcel tax was not the only issue on the minds of the audience. Protesters charge huge budget cuts threaten the very existence of adult education programs.
“We, as tax payers, have paid for education. The voters, the adults, voted in career and technical education. They pay for it and now they’re asking for a parcel tax to help with education and yet they want to take away the same thing that is needed to help these adults get jobs,” said adult education supporter Richard Fischetto.
Some audience members say special education programs are being decimated at some schools as well because of budget cuts. Anita Baluran said that she has grave concerns about the nearby elementary school where her kids are in the 4th and 5th grades, but she said that some of the teachers are not adequately trained and the tension level is high.
“There are so many things going on, I’m not sure if it’s the cutbacks that are affecting our teachers to act the way they act toward parents and it’s causing conflict between families and teachers,” Baluran said.
But kindergarten teacher Cheryl Trejo said that teachers have to overcome so many obstacles at the LAUSD, that it takes a superhuman effort just to succeed.
“We’re constantly being told again that 5,100 teachers will be laid off again, class sizes are going up. We have no supplies in the schools, where every year teachers are being moved around, laid off, and hired back, she said.