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Protesters decry proposed cuts to L.A. school programs

February 14, 2012 | 11:39 am

Hundreds of adult-education and early-education supporters rallied outside of Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters Tuesday protesting a plan that would eliminate the budgets of the two programs.

Students, teachers and supporters of the programs gathered at the downtown building. The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on a budget plan Tuesday afternoon.

In the plan, no money was budgeted for the district's adult-education programs and early-education programs, effectively eliminating them.

The proposed cuts come as L.A. Unified is under pressure to pare next year's budget by more than $500 million.

Demonstrators wore yellow shirts and chanted "save our kids, no more cuts," as they repeatedly crossed the street.

One parent, Carmelita Ramirez-Sanchez, said her son, a fifth-grader, went through the early education programs and is now at the top of his class. She worries that her 3-year-old, who is currently in the program, won't have the same foundation.

"They have three years of focus, three years of understanding a curriculum," she said. "Once they get to kindergarten, it's a breeze."

The programs, she noted, are only available to children whose parents either work or go to school full-time, leaving many without any other form of childcare.

Speaking at a news conference, AnneMarie Montanez, a teacher advisor at Wilson Lincoln Adult School, said the elimination of adult programs would hurt not only the students, but their children as well.

Many students take the classes "so they can talk to their children, talk to their teachers and get a good job."

Even if the plan is approved by the school board, a final version of the budget is likely to be months away.

-- Stephen Ceasar