February 21, 9:45pm | With more than $200 million cut since 2008 and counting, the closure of two schools, and more than 800 layoffs last year, the Board for the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) unanimously passed a motion approving the layoff of over 308 employees in order to brace for the millions the district will lose following Governor Jerry Brown’s budget plan. The motion effectively laid off the entire teaching staff of Head Start, a preschool program that Superintendent Chris Steinhauser called “one of the best in the nation.”
The room was crowded with parents though only two people spoke in dissention: a young father, Robert Nelson, who spoke early in the evening talking of the abilities his son had learned through the Head Start program and Joe Boyd, the Executive Director of the Teacher’s Association of Long Beach.
Boyd insisted that while many of the cuts were in response to the budget cuts handed over by the Governor, “most, if not all, of the proposed K-12 cuts are not necessary at all… We need [the Board] to take the steps to stop the layoffs and find savings in other areas away from the classroom.”
However, Steinhauser was not one for sugar-coating, expressing grave concern about the future cuts that could be possible — an astounding $30 million if voters do not approve a measure in November increasing the state sales tax, leading the district to a $189 million deficit, or what Steinhauser called “Armageddon — and the public needs to know that. This District has done an outstanding job of cutting [outside classrooms]… But we’re at the breaking point now.”
The Board also approved a motion set forth at the suggestion of Steinhauser to cut $15 to $20 million dollars from its $700 million dollar budget when the fiscal year begins July 1.