Long Beach Unified School District could lay off nearly 800 employees
The school system of 84,000 students, the state's third-largest, this week joined a growing list of districts passing worst-case-scenario budgets for next year.
Most of the cuts to the district's $700-million general fund would be unnecessary if Gov. Jerry Brown is successful in extending expiring tax increases. Otherwise, the picture in Long Beach would be grim as a result of "the state's unmitigated budget disaster," in the words of Long Beach Unified officials.
The Long Beach school board Tuesday approved $24.4 million in tentative cuts, two weeks after authorizing $27 million in reductions. The district's budget reflects an anticipated loss of $634 per student, although recent projections suggest the shortfall could be substantially more.
Under the budget plan, the average class size in grades six through 12 would increase by three students to 35. For kindergarten through third-grade, classes would rise by five to 10 students, depending on the school, for an average of 30 students per class.
Besides teachers, the job losses would thin the ranks of administrators, librarians, nurses, psychologists, counselors and others. About a third of the already limited transportation services would be slashed.
Los Angeles Unified also approved deep budget cuts this week.
Long Beach Unified spokesman Chris Eftychiou said the approved budget is "tragic, especially when you consider that we're widely regarded as one of the nation's leading school systems."
"New York spends about twice the amount per pupil that California spends," he said. "That's about $250,000 more per 35-student classroom per year. California kids are just as deserving as New York kids."
Long Beach Unified has reduced its budget by more than $200 million since 2008, officials said.
-- Howard Blume
Image: Map shows private, public and charter schools in Long Beach. Credit: Mapping L.A.