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.