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Local Schools: $72 Million Blow If Prop 30 Fails

As the largest employment base in a city of a half million, Long Beach's K-12 and college leaders say students, business and residents will feel the economic ax without Prop. 30 passage.

The heads of the biggest employers in the city of Long Beach are taking steps to ensure that the public is aware of the upcoming ballot initiative, Proposition 30. Standing in front of the iconic, blue pyramid on Tuesday, on the beautiful CSULB campus, Long Beach educational leaders delivered the news that if the proposition does not pass, the combined annual budget cut for LBUSD, Long Beach City College and CSULB will be a catastrophic $72 million, with ongoing cuts following. Thousands of students will be turned away from both colleges, teachers will be laid off at every level and classes will be made larger or taken off the schedule.

The leaders of all three institutions--LBUSD's Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser, LBCC President Eloy Ortiz Oakley, and CSULB President F. King Alexander-- spoke in turn and unanimously painted a bleak picture of what can be expected this year, not next, if California voters fail to approve the tax initiative, Proposition 30, placed on November's ballot by Governor Brown. They would not speak to the competing Proposition 38 (sponsored by parent leader Molly Munger) , and they made clear that they are only informing the public of the consequences they can expect, whatever the outcome. With a total of 13,000 employees, combined at all three institutions, the aftermath of potential lay-offs will be felt throughout the local economy.

The educational frontmen outlined what the cuts can be expected to look like at each institution. Alexander stated that no more students will be accepted this year, in contrast to previous years when 2800 mid-year transfers were accepted, and the university will reduce per-student spending to $3500--about half of the national average. In addition 2000 classes will be cut, employees will be laid off and in the fall 2000 fewer new students will be accepted to one of the most popular universities in the U.S. He stated that the university will be spending less than half of the national average per-student, and that the cuts would be felt deeply by the students.

Answering questions immediately after statements, President Alexander asserted that taxpayers should feel confident that tax revenues will be used appropriately, and that Long Beach schools are extremely efficient institutions, but that these efficiencies will begin to negatively impact the students if funding is not forthcoming.

For the LBUSD the cut means the very real possibility of 20 fewer days of school for this school year, among other devastating losses. Class sizes will be increased once again, and school counselors will be reduced or eliminated. High school sports could be drastically reduced or eliminated. All elementary school music and arts will go away and there will be no more teacher-librarians. In addition, all AVID college readiness programs and adult education programs will be cut. 

Superintendent Steinhauser answered questions about the deleterious effects of holding back funding and how it will affect the local economy of Long Beach. He emphasized that 70% of the employees of LBUSD live in Long Beach and when groups of those workers are laid off, there are house payments that won't be made. "Every time a person is laid of from any of our institutions, it directly impacts our community" Steinhauser asserted.

At Long Beach City College, the school is already operating with a structural deficit which will only be compounded by the loss of another $8.4 million if Prop. 30 fails. President Oakley explained that the reduced budget will force lay offs of full time faculty and a decrease of students accepted at City College. 

Also speaking at the press conference was Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, himself a former student and student government leader at CSULB. He stated that the cuts will diminish the ability of the 6th largest city in California to prepare its young people for the future workforce. He spoke of the importance of maintaining educational programs that produce workers of the future. He said that the universities are the largest training systems of every kind of worker and failure of Prop 30 will have a massive impact on our local economy.

Gayle Joseph October 10, 2012 at 10:17 AM
Excellent article!
John B. Greet October 10, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Some interesting arguments against Prop. 30 can be found here: http://www.stopprop30.com/get-the-facts/myths-and-facts/ I am not unsympathatic to the current plight of our State's public school system, but it is largely a plight of their own making, and that of the State legislature that has mismanaged the people's money for so long in California that no one seems to expect anything else from it. I think the best way to improve public education in California is to accomplish two things as soon as possible: 1: Elect more fiscally-responsible representatives in Sacramento and, 2. Completely change our public education paradigm, shifting it away from a predominantly government managed system to one that affords a greater level of education choice, particularly for parents of K-12 students.
Kristin Mann October 10, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I agree with Mr. Grant. Prop 30's arguments should be read. This is a tax that the governor wanted so he could spend money where he wants to. A dead bill was resurrected by Brown to get Prop 30 supported by unions and insurance companies. The whole reason the unions and insurance companies wanted this is because AB 863 supposedly saved them money. And it passed at the end of August. AB 863 reduced the benefits for injured workers. Not only do benefits get cut but injured workers will not get treated in the way that they will need. The very people that say they are here to support their people, truly are not. I only hope that people will see that this Prop is just a new tax for the people in office to spend as they like. Its truly not what it seems.
Jacqui Viale October 10, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Whatever it seems politically to any of us, Prop 30 is a tax on those individuals making over 250,00 and 1/4% sales tax hike for 5 years (taxes on couples with incomes over $500,000 a year) to ameliorate the crisis in public education and public safety. There are audits required each year to ensure that is being spent appropriately--just to assuage citizens concerned about exactly what those above expressed. You can read the actual text of the initiative here: http://ag.ca.gov/cms_attachments/initiatives/pdfs/i1057_12-0009_governors_initiative_v3.pdf If it does not pass, the cuts outlined in the article will be a reality no matter what we feel about government.
R. J. Steelworth October 10, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I'm not voting for any new taxes. At my sons middle school, they received all new computers when he was in sixth grade. When he graduated from 8th grade, those computers were still stored away unopened never put into service. They are will be obsolete before they even go into service if ever. Just one of many examples of waste. NO NEW TAXES!
Squigglemom, Trish Tsoi-A-Sue October 10, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I will vote yes on Prop 30. We can plan on making changes in the future, but now we have an imminent crisis. Not sure why, but right at this moment, Oliver Twist is coming to my mind and it distresses me greatly.
Bryan Bayer October 10, 2012 at 03:16 PM
We already have the highest and second highest state sales tax and state income tax in the nation. We are spending more per student than 48 other states. The people with incomes over 250k pay over 70% of the total tax bill. What are we getting in return? Over twenty percent of our students do not earn a high school diploma. How can we compete in the global economy with these poor results? Why do cuts always hurt the students and the current teachers? We need courageous leaders to address the root problems, 1)unsustainable pension and medical unfunded liabilities, 2) union controlled hiring and firing policies. Education reform is the real civil rights issue of our time and time is running out... How can increasing this burden seem fair to anyone? How can spending more money with worse results make sense to anyone
John B. Greet October 10, 2012 at 03:27 PM
"Prop 30 is a tax on those individuals making over 250,00 and 1/4% sales tax hike for 5 years (taxes on couples with incomes over $500,000 a year)" How do you answer these rebuttals?: "The measure is a tax on all Californians. Sales taxes for all Californians will increase over the current rate by more than 3% to a statewide average of 8.4%, the highest in the country. Income taxes for individuals and small businesses will increase by up to 32%." -and- "Much of the massive income tax increase will fall on small businesses because many of them pay individual taxes on their earnings, not corporate taxes. This proposal doesn’t raise taxes on huge national corporations, but instead, it hits mom and pop businesses from every corner of the state with up to a 30% increase in their taxes." "...to ameliorate the crisis in public education and public safety." Perhaps there are better ways to ameliorate the crisis than imposing yet another tax on folks in California who are already among the most highly-taxed people in the nation. Then again, perhaps we should not avert this crisis at all. Perhaps if we let enough schools crumble and fail, and enough criminals free from their court-ordered incarceration, and, as a result, our population becomes less educated and our society becomes less safe, maybe the voters will *finally* get angry enough to get rid of the current crop of fiscally irresponsible State legislators and change our public education paradigm.
tiny October 10, 2012 at 04:16 PM
You can see where the budget problems originate with a look at the categories of employment in the California economy: www.bls.gov/eag/eag.ca.htm # Employed : 4.6 M Services 4.3 M Gov't/Education/Health 2.7 M Trade/Transportation/Utilities 2.0 M Agriculture 1.9 M Manufacturing/Construction/Mining 1.2 M Information/Financial *Top heavy in Services & Gov't/Education/Health
Jacqui Viale October 10, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I hear what you are saying Bryan but, to be clear, I don't think it is "spending more money", it is replacing funding that is being cut due to lack of state revenues. Also, not sure of your statement that "we are spending more per student than 48 other states." I assume you mean "we" as in California, but that is not what President Alexander stated at the press conference. There are definitely root problems that need to be addressed as you point out.
Nancy Wride (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Do you mind if I ask what city? And are you sure the school district versus the PTA or Foundation (fundraising arm)?
Nancy Wride (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 07:34 PM
As to comparisons, what state would be equal in population, lack of property taxes as an education source and the exponentially larger problems when the economy is up or down? If you have that many more students, don't you need that many more teachers? Same with city and state employees? Long Beach Unified has some of the largest high schools in California: Wilson is at what, more than 5,000? That is larger than the town my in-laws grew up in, and they had a full police department, police chief, mayor, park rangers, lifeguards on the lake, trash and sewage departments, etc.
Jacqui Viale October 10, 2012 at 07:36 PM
For those interested in the statistics, the US Census Bureau produced a marvelously helpful document from the 2010 census which outlines finances for education for the entire country: Public Education Finances: 2010. (Issued June 2012) http://www2.census.gov/govs/school/10f33pub.pdf You can look up state rankings, revenue, per pupil spending, etc. Granted the data is now two years old, however the publication is still quite instructive. Spending is actually down since that time, as we know. I point you to Table 8, Per Pupil Amounts for Current Spending of Public Elementary-Secondary School Systems by State: 2009–2010. You can see the entire table at the above URL, but the first number in this table is the total per pupil spending for each state, and the numbers listed in the first line for "United States" must be the average but I could not find the legend indicating the meaning of that measure. United States . . . . 10,615 Alabama . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,881 Alaska . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,783 Arizona . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7,848 Arkansas . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,143 California . . . . . . . . . . . . 9,375 Colorado . . . . . . . . . . . . 8,853 Connecticut . . . . . . . . . . 14,906 Delaware . . . . . . . . . . . . 12,383 (Sorry I could not include the whole list, ran out of characters!)
Robyn Norwood October 10, 2012 at 07:38 PM
California ranked 35th nationally in per-pupil spending in most recent data: www.sacbee.com/2012/06/21/4579408/california-falls-to-35th-in-nation.html
Nancy Wride (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 07:40 PM
You mean vouchers, correct?
Nancy Wride (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Good data. On pensions and retirements, reform has already begun, but it can only impact future employees, so it is not a solution to our current situation. One thing that strikes home for me personally on class size is this: my nephews go to private school and they have no homework and 20 kids per class. Our kids in LBUSD have up to 40 and a 10th grader I know has three hours nightly plus weekends. This is the ground level stuff that truly impacts my every day life as a parent, wife and friend (who never has time to see them lately).
Jennifer Crans October 10, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Thanks Jacqui, for the information on Proposition 30. I need to educate myself a bit better on all of them so that I may make informed decisions come November. Your posts are helpful. Nancy, my daughter attends private school this year. There are 35 students in her class and she has several (or more) hours of nightly homework (typically private school assigns a lot of homework). My nieces and nephew all attend public school. The classes are crowded, and the 9th grader at Wilson has many hours of nightly homework. She's also taking all accelerated and AP classes. My niece that attends Stanford has a set of books that stays at school, and a set for home. But, the high schooler could open a small bookstore with the amount of books she has, but she only has one set. None of us are seeing much of eachother lately, but it seems their workloads are comparable.
Nancy Wride (Editor) October 11, 2012 at 01:26 AM
Interesting, Jennifer. It probably varies district to district and in LBC, neighborhood to neighborhood. I just know a friend's daughter had her first day of school and one of her requirement courses had 52 students and 30 chairs/desks, so the Wilson students stood for a day or two. The text book situation on being able to take them home or have a set at school, in 5th grade I could not pick up my kid's backpack with one hand :D
Nancy Wride (Editor) October 11, 2012 at 01:27 AM
This is a story we posted earlier today on the Props: http://longbeach-ca.patch.com/articles/proposition-30-38-supporters-duel-over-tax-increase-measures2
John B. Greet October 11, 2012 at 01:41 AM
I voted against Prop. 30 today. I did so because our State elected government needs to learn to be more fiscally responsible. I did so because our public schools are in a financial crisis, in large part, of their own making. Mostly, though, I did so because our kids, all of them, including my own, deserve better access to an excellent education than our current government-monopolized public school system provides them. The best, long term answers for our failing and financially-strapped public schools is not higher taxes, it is to change course in Sacramento and change course in how we educate our kids.
Bree Plummer October 11, 2012 at 03:52 AM
I will not be able to afford my tuition anymore if this prop fails. Do you really want to see kids dropping out, classes cut, and majors cut because of this? Think about the kids.
tiny October 11, 2012 at 04:05 AM
There's probably no small fixes. What's probably required is Glass-Steagall, a 3rd National Bank, and then credit for big projects to rebuild.
John B. Greet October 11, 2012 at 04:48 AM
Bree, with all due respect, it is not the general society's responsibility to make sure that you can afford your tuition. Your tuition would be far less expensive if those we have elected to represent us in Sacramento were not so badly squandering all of the tax revenue we already send them each year. Every time we remit more in taxes to address this crisis or some other, not long afterward we are asked to remit more still. This is so because we are not solving the true problems that cause these recurrent financial crises to begin with, we just keep throwing good money after bad in the hopes that eventually those who are squandering it will have enough. So long as we keep agreeing to give them more, they will never have enough. Contrary to what they seem to believe, our resources are not infinite. Californians are already among the most highly-taxed people in the country, and yet here's still another "crisis" we are asked to solve. Fine, let's solve it, but let's solve it in a way that actually does solve it rather than simply kicking the debt and deficit can a little further down the road.
Jacqui Viale October 11, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Well, Mr. Greet, that is one way of looking at it. Another way to look at it is that it is beneficial to the entire society when education is available to all, regardless of financial circumstances. I think the rise of the US with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and then subsequent development of public educational institutions bears that out quite nicely.

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