Cash-strapped LCUSD makes case for donations

Town hall meeting draws crowd of parents, some frustrated with threat of higher class sizes.

February 18, 2011|By Sara Cardine
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

There’s only one thing that will reduce class sizes, prevent teacher layoffs and bring aides back to kindergarten classes throughout La Cañada Unified School District — money. That was the predominant message of a town hall meeting Wednesday night organized by the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation, which asked local school families to look deep into their hearts and pocketbooks to help make up for the nearly $5 million annually the district will lose as the result of continued spending cuts at the state level.

School board members Joel Peterson and Scott Tracy joined Supt. Jim Stratton and foundation representatives in a packed La Cañada High School auditorium to explain the current economic climate and answer previously e-mailed questions about spending cuts, taxes and what this means to parents and constituents. No live questions from parents were taken.

The seemingly scripted Q&A style discussion was a walk-up to an overall recommendation put forth by the foundation that school families contribute a total of $2,500 per year per household to allow LCUSD to return to the funding levels of 2007-2008, when the services were adequate and class sizes in key areas (grades 1-3 and freshman math and English) were kept at 20:1.


Officials claim this support is crucial to maintaining the reputation of a school district famed for attracting new homebuyers to La Cañada and keeping home values up.

One of those new homebuyers is Sun Chung, who moved to La Cañada from Los Angeles in May to escape the overcrowding and financial struggles within Los Angeles Unified School District. She was not encouraged by what she heard at Tuesday’s meeting.

“For me to be here and listen to this all over again, it’s frustrating,” Chung said. “I can’t imagine my son being in a classroom with 30 students.”

Until recently, LCUSD has been able to avoid furloughs and tenured teacher layoffs, thanks to parent donations and other stop-gap measures. But declining student enrollment, cuts to unrestricted funds from the state and the end of “one-time” funding received in previous years had the district starting the 2011-2012 school year with roughly $4.9 million less than it received in 2007-2008.

La Canada Valley Sun Articles La Canada Valley Sun Articles