Last month, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board held off on a proposal to completely eliminate the LAUSD’s adult education program, which would have left over 300,000 adult students without adult education services in Los Angeles.
According the L.A. Weekly, the Board instead asked Superintendent John Deasy and the unions to work together on a plan to balance the budget that would not require eliminating adult education and other programs, like pre-K services, also slated for elimination. According to the Weekly, Deasy started that ball rolling at the meeting by specifically pitching a parcel tax proposal just before the Board voted on the matter—one that “he and Board President Monica Garcia mentioned at every opportunity throughout the meeting.” Moreover, the Superintendent implored those speaking against the program eliminations to support such a tax proposal. (Some suggested at the time that the proposal to zero out adult education might, in fact, have been “orchestrated by district officials to galvanize support” for the tax increase.)
Today, as reported in the Contra Costa Times, the Board met and approved the plan the Superintendent came up with, which not only includes the parcel tax proposal (specifically, putting a $298 parcel tax on the November ballot to raise $255 million a year for the next five years), but also would
require request LAUSD labor unions to accept a one-year pay cut across the board (!), which they estimate will save another $220 million. If both of these things are approved, Deasy says LAUSD will be able to continue adult education (although my guess from that language is that this does not necessarily mean that the budget for adult education services might not be reduced) and other services that have been threatened with elimination.
UPDATE, 3/14: A different story appearing in the same paper says that the vote was for “a worst-case budget that would gut popular programs like Adult and Early-Childhood Education for 2012-13, although a recent infusion of state money allowed officials to hold out hope of restoring some programs by fall.” That seems to be consistent with this post, although I still don’t understand what exactly has been cut and when those cuts would go in to effect or potentially be restored. I think the bottom line is that the proposal appears to do something short of eliminating adult education completely while leaving it’s budgetary future more than a little murky.
UPDATE 2, 3/14: More stories out today that clarify this a bit better. Basically, I’ve got this right, but the way I characterized it originally is a bit more hopeful-sounding than it should have been.
According to Kathleen Miles in The Huffington Post, (citing the Daily News) Deasy’s plan is a worst-case scenario plan that does in fact eliminate adult education and other programs—which is more or less just like the old plan, but with two differences:
1. Deasy was able to make a $180-million readjustment to the deficit projection as a result of, according to the Los Angeles Times, “a variety of unexpected good news, including the restoration of projected cuts to transportation, higher-than-expected state lottery revenue and a decrease in projected benefits expenditures.” As a result, the district was able to maintain some programs in the plan as it now stands, such as career and technical training for high school students.
2. Adult Education and several other programs, on the other hand, are still eliminated in this plan. The difference is that they could still be restored if the parcel tax increase is approved by the voters and/or the unions accept the across-the-board pay cut he has proposed.
In other words, the plan doesn’t assume that the revenue/savings ideas will go forward. It’s a worst-case plan that leaves some hope for adult education restoration, but no promises.
In order to pass, parcel taxes need the approval of two-thirds of voters. LAUSD’s last parcel tax measure in 2010 was defeated with 52 percent of the vote. I have no idea how likely it is that the unions will accept the pay cut proposal and too tired to find out. But I can guess it will not be (has not been?) warmly received.
Some adult education advocates in Los Angeles have strong opinions about the financial mess that LAUSD and how to resolve them that go to more fundamental issues of fairness and economic justice. In fact, for those interested, there is a lot more to read about the situation in L.A. here and here. (The second link is to a Web site set up by L.A. adult education advocates.)
(In addition to the updates above, the headline has been re-written to better reflect the tenuous nature of the possibility that adult education will be restored.)