LBUSD, LBCC and CSULB Face Severe Budget Cuts Unless Proposition 30 Passes
Long Beach Educational Leaders Warn Of Consequences If Tax Measure Fails
By Joshua H. Silavent - Staff Writer
October 9, 2012 – Long Beach K-12 schools and higher education institutions face more than $72 million in additional budget cuts this academic year unless voters support Proposition 30 on Election Day. Without new funding, teacher layoffs, loss of middle school sports, increased class sizes, elimination of university courses and other program reductions will continue on an annual basis.
That was the dire message delivered by the heads of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), Long Beach City College (LBCC) and the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) during a morning press conference today in front of the Walter Pyramid on the CSULB campus.
Flanked by students and teachers, educational leaders urged the public to consider how the City of Long Beach would be negatively impacted if Proposition 30 fails.
The three educational institutions serve more than 142,000 students and employ 13,000 people, the largest industry source of employment in Long Beach. The LBUSD educates more children than Boston, Cincinnati and Detroit.
“Because of this partnership, we have thousands and thousands of young people achieving the American dream,” said LBUSD Superintendent Chris Steinhauser.
Indeed, 79 percent of LBUSD graduates attend college or university, which is better than the national average for school districts, with about 40 percent of those attending LBCC or CSULB.
But the LBUSD alone has eliminated more than 1,000 jobs since 2008 as a result of $300 million in budget cuts. And more job losses are likely in 2013 unless Proposition 30 comes to the rescue.
To cover funding shortfalls for K-12 and community college education, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed raising taxes on personal income over $250,000 for seven years and increasing sales taxes for a four-year period.
Estimates vary on the amount of revenue that will be generated if Proposition 30 becomes law, ranging from $6.8 to $9 billion in fiscal year 2013 and $5.4 to $7.6 billion over the next five years.
The new tax revenues would not provide additional funding to Long Beach schools, but rather would prevent more cuts.
The LBUSD reports that it would slash another $35 million, or about $435 per student, for the current school year if voters oppose Proposition 30. Twenty school days would be lost, elementary music and arts programs would be eliminated and college-readiness courses would be scrapped, as a result.
Steinhauser asked Californians to make education a priority.
“Our citizens have always come together to do what’s right,” he said. “And education is the right thing to do.”
Meanwhile, Long Beach City College is bracing for an additional $6.4 million in cuts this academic year, which could prohibit thousands of students from enrolling.
More than $800 million has been cut from the state’s community college system budget since 2008. As a result, enrollment has taken a 17 percent dive and more than 470,000 students were on course waiting lists at the start of the 2012 fall semester. Brown has said the system faces another $338 million in reductions if Proposition 30 does not pass.
“We need to be educating more students, not less,” said LBCC Superintendent-President Eloy Ortiz Oakley.
Finally, the California State University system is preparing for $250 million in mid-year cuts, with CSULB readying for $31 million in lost funding. Per student spending would fall to $3,500, well below the national average of $7,200. Moreover, about 2,000 classes would be eliminated and 2,000 students would not be enrolled next year, as a result.
Already, CSULB only receives about one in four dollars in funding directly from the state.
“You could actually argue that we’ve gone from a state-assisted university to simply a state-located university,” said CSULB President F. King Alexander.
Morgan Massey, 20, is worried that she will feel the immediate impact of cuts if Proposition 30 fails at the ballot box. She is studying kinesiotherapy – a holistic approach to physical therapy – at CSULB and just began her final year.
“Obviously, there’s going to be classes cut and my major is impacted,” Massey told the Business Journal.
Furthermore, she is concerned about what budget cuts to higher education might mean for her continued studies, such as graduate work in occupational therapy.
“I have definitely considered it,” Massey said.
Alexander said Tuesday’s news conference wasn’t about telling Californians how to vote. It was simply a way to eliminate any doubt about how Long Beach’s educational institutions would be hurt.
“We take great pride in what our school system used to be,” Alexander added. “We take great pride in what our colleges and universities used to be. Let’s quit saying what it used to be. Let’s build back what it was.”
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