Budget Cuts Force TCUSD to Rely on Reserves

The School Board continued to discuss the Temple City Unified School District (TCUSD) budget in light of budget cuts imposed by state legislators in February 2009.

Five teachers at Temple City High School (TCHS) will be laid off in the coming school year, district officials said. The TCHS Media Center staff may also suffer some trimming as well.

The District has a large, legally-mandated reserve fund. The fund, which is supposed to supply money to the TCUSD in dire economic times, is currently being used.

“We are currently relying on our reserves to make up for our budget,” said Superintendent Chelsea Kang-Smith on Wednesday, April 15.

“We have reduced the reserve by half, and we are counting on it to make it through the [2008-2009] school year,” she added.

Last month, the School Board considered a proposal to layoff classified staff within TCUSD. The Board decided unanimously to strike it down as members of the CSEA 105, the classified employees’ union rallied against the proposal.

The proposal would have laid off 22 part-time workers, reduced the hours of 24 more staff members, and halve the hours and benefits of one full-time employee at all schools sites within TCUSD. Had the plan been adopted, the District would have saved about $417,000.

A Channel 4 News reporter Robert Kovacic came to Emperor elementary school to interview the classified staff and principal. The short video segment, “Temple City Classified Employees Also Vulnerable,” aired on April 3. It can still be found on the NBC Los Angeles website.

Kovacic was brought in by Robin Penn, president of the classified employees’ union. Penn had criticized the news media for neglecting the impact the budget cuts had other District staff.

In addition to discussing the budget, the School Board mulled over longer school hours at La Rosa elementary school.

The plan being circulated would affect children in kindergarten. Currently, kindergarteners attend school for three and a half hours on an a.m. / p.m. system. If implemented, students will attend school for six hours.

“We are in full support of increasing the hours in La Rosa’s school day” commented Smith.

School Board members also heard from La Rosa staff members, who offered their support for the idea. Administrators hope to draw in new students because of a longer school day. They also hope to increase the amount of kindergarten classes from five to six and induce further mind-development in the children.

Board members equally expressed enthusiasm for the proposed system.

“We plan to bring the action back for the Board meeting in May” stated the superintendent. The School Board’s next official meeting is on May 13.

 

This article was written by Katie Brown. It was published in the Temple City Voice on May 1, 2009.

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2 comments

  1. GS

    The unions exist for the sole purpose of protecting the adults. To extend the instructional day, the teachers union would have a fit. To recruit volunteers for the schools, the classified union would be up in arms. To move a desk from one room to another, we will incur the wrath of building maintenance, which has an exclusive claim on this job description. Kids are not even supposed to help keep the school clean, because this might take away someone’s job. The Educational Foundation cannot even create a sufficient number of summer school courses, because kids who accelerate and bring in credits over the summer might affect teacher full-time equivalencies (FTEs) in the fall. When did schools exist for adults again?

    An ethical administrator cannot evaluate an incompetent and abusive teacher with an unsatisfactory mark without also mobilizing the teachers union who will fight tooth and nail in defense of this incompetent and abusive teacher. Parents will demand that administrators fire the incompetent and abusive teacher, but do not understand that in this system, there is the practice of precarious “due process” called tenure backed by the full power of the union. No wonder our society is going bankrupt. The future that we have in our kids rests in the hands of adults whose primary interest is unfortunately not in our kids.

    The wise administrator will be submissive to the teachers and ask for permissions on anything and everything. After all, Temple City wouldn’t have so many “distinguished schools” without excellent teachers and instructional aides who help these teachers produce such excellent students. No credit should go to the parents who work so hard in making sure that their kids get tutoring afterschool, attend private school on weekends and beg counselors for a spot in summer school classes only to lose out to a lottery system. The credit goes to teachers and staff that do their magic in their 5-hours of textbook-worksheet-based instruction each day, who do such an outstanding job that they never stay after school unless they are paid an extra hourly rate for their labor. What happened to the love of the job and the purpose of being an educator?

    Too bad parents and community members do not know the intricacies of the power structure that exist in public education. All decisions that affect kids in the classroom are based on who holds this power. The blind support of the public for the teachers and instructional aides comes with a consequence. In education, when the interests of the adult are placed above and beyond the interests of the child, innovation and accountability ends and minimalism in meeting the terms in the union contracts becomes the norm. Job security wins. Parents, who already pay taxes, need to pay the extra costs of after school, weekend, and summer schools for their kids so their kids do not fall behind.

    Local board members and politicians elected by organized labor know full well how this game is played. No one dares mess with the unions because they have the numbers and they have the influence through the parents. School administrators who have stood up against the absurdities of union entitlements are either severely crippled in their effectiveness as instructional leaders or have already decided to go to other places that have a more reasonable balance of power.

    The choice will be up to the community, who will elect members to the Board of Education, which is currently controlled by the teachers union. By the way, how many teachers actually live in the school district to even vote in the best interest of the community? Yet, teachers can convince parents and community members to vote a certain way through their phone banks. By the speed at which teachers leave their classrooms at the end of each day, they seem to have more interest in beating traffic on the freeways than staying for a few more minutes to help a few more kids. Just visit any school parking lot at 3:30 PM and you will see for yourself how your support for your unionized teachers and instructional aides is paying off.

    Reward and support those teachers who stay after school out of their own volition. These are the teachers who have the least to worry about losing their jobs or needing the union to protect them. Unfortunately, however, most of these highly enthusiastic, idealistic, and innovative teachers are less senior than those who control the union and are the first to be cut in this budget crisis because of their lack of seniority. Schools, bounded by the union contract to protect teacher seniority are oftentimes left with expensive $90,000 dead wood who refuse to retire. The control of the school district basically rests in the hands of a very few number of senior teachers who ultimately dictate how our schools are to be run. When was the last time the union had a young and caring teacher as union president? The end goal is still to protect the interests of the adults.

  2. Susan Liu

    I agree with GS’s assertion that the purpose of schools is not for adults, but for kids. I am a parent of two kids attending Temple City schools and am concerned about the recent budget cuts. I am concerned about how some of the excellent, newer teachers have received layoff notices and yet none of the really bad senior teachers have been touched. The recent investigation by LA Times on how difficult it is to cut incompetent teachers is alarming.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-teachers3-2009may03,0,5765040,full.story

    It is a constant gamble each year on whether my kids will get decent teachers or not so decent teachers. My kids have excellent teachers this year, but last year my younger son had a horrible teacher and the principal could not do anything about it. It is baffling how good teachers are now pink-slipped to save the bad, more senior teachers because of a union contract.

    Is there anything in the union contract that empowers parents as well? Do parents have a voice in which teacher needs to be pink-slipped and which ones not? Do my kids have a say as to which teacher is good and which is bad? Parents and kids are powerless when it comes to asking for schools to replace bad teachers.

    It worries me to know that next year my older son will have a teacher who is known to be mean to her students. I don’t know if they make $90000 or not, but the damage these teachers do to kids will have consequences that cannot be measured by dollars. The current Board members need to know that they are getting special treatments from these teachers and do not truly see their meanness.

    There is no sense of customer service or respect with some of these teachers. Also, the front desks at these schools sometimes treat you like a second-class citizen. This is not the DMV, but you get treated like you’re at the DMV.

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