The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) board of education is expected to make a decision Tuesday on next year's adult education funding.
Serious budget cuts and possible layoffs continue to loom over adult education campuses. Teachers fear for their jobs and wonder how they might continue to make a living by teaching adults.
“Our teachers will have drastic hour cuts,” said Elsa Madrid, principal of South Gate Community Adult School, when asked about how teachers would be affected if reductions are made.
During a meeting last February, the LAUSD board considered a budget for the 2012-2013 academic school year that provided no funds for adult schools. The board then delayed its vote to see if money can be allocated to adult schools.
The LAUSD's total budget stands at more then $6 billion. The district is facing a deficit of $543 million. Adult education funding has historically made up 2 percent of the budget.
Full-time teachers at adult schools have already suffered budget cuts. Over the last few years, the funding squeeze forced large reductions in their hours of work.
“When they cut my hours to 20 a week, that was a third of my salary gone,” said Miguel Ramirez, 50, an English and algebra teacher at South Gate Community Adult School. “You really can’t survive on those 20 hours; it is not easy to do.”
Ramirez is currently the only wage earner in a household of four. That reality, coupled with the financial situation of his employer, means that a difficult year is most likely ahead of him.
“The whole of next year is not going to be normal,” said Ramirez. “I don’t have a lot of savings; I have a daughter who is 15 and a stepson in college.”
The hourly cuts have also affected those who were close to fulfilling their retirement goals. With fewer hours, they have been required to work more years to obtain a livable package for themselves.
“I might have been able to retire two years ago, had it not been for all the cuts,” said Sara Tyndall, 65, an English as a second language teacher at South Gate Community Adult School. “All these cuts have affected the timing of what I had planned.”
Non-tenured professors, like Ramirez and Tyndall, make up 75 percent of the faculty at South Gate Community Adult School. They are not guaranteed a minimum workweek of 20 hours, unlike their tenured counterparts, which means they could see further cuts to their hours.
The teachers receive medical insurance when they work over a set number of hours. Their coverage could be substantially decreased if they work fewer hours a week.
“Our district says that teachers have to have at least 18 hours to maintain their medical benefits,” said Madrid. “If our teachers get cut to 12 hours or 9 hours, they will lose their benefits.”
Some programs or departments could also be eliminated with budget reductions and teacher advisers may be among the positions cut.
“We have been told from sources in higher [positions] than us that if the budget has drastic cuts, there won't be teacher advisers,” said Justin Gorence, a teacher adviser at South Gate Community Adult School.
Teacher advisers help students to develop a plan that can help them meet their academic or professional goals. They advise them on classes and assist adult students when adjustments to their schedules are necessary as many are juggling their school responsibilities with work.
Gorence, who is married and has a 7-year-old daughter, explains that his responsibilities have forced him to think about the worst of scenarios.
“I have already started talking to friends, and people I know that work in other businesses, to know what opportunities are available,” said Gorence. “I owe it to my daughter. I can’t wait until June 23 (the end of the 2011-2012 budget year) to wonder what I am going to do. That won't put food on the table or a roof over her head.”
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