Bill Boyarsky
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Parents win cutback reprieve

Parents have won partial restoration of federal poverty funds for 23 schools in the San Fernando Valley and the Westside. Many of the schools are in middle class neighborhoods but have substantial numbers of poor students.

The reprieve is only for a year. And the funds will come from money allocated to schools with many more poor students. While it’s a nice win for the parents with kids in the 23 schools, it’s really sad. People are fighting over scraps as Washington and state governments slash school funds. The situation is bleak in many states and California is one of those being hit the hardest.

John E. Deasy, Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, said the 23 schools would receive a part of the money they would have lost under a Board of Education decision made in December. The money is distributed under Title 1 of the federal aid to education law.

Involved are schools that have been receiving the aid because at least 40 per cent of their students are classified as living in poverty. With federal funds being reduced, the board raised the level of poverty students needed for eligibility to 50 percent, resulting in the proposed cutoff to the 23 students.

“In a time of great economic challenges and uncertainty, this option provides (the) schools with a ‘safety net’ while we transition to the new eligibility threshold,” Deasy said in a letter to the board.

Tamar Galatzan of the San Fernando Valley, the only school board member to vote against the cutoff, said, “ This is a short term solution to help the 23 district schools… It is our duty as a district to try to help them find both short-term and long-term solutions.”

The only long-term solution is giving more money to public education.

One is being proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who advocates an initiative for the November ballot that would raise state sales taxes by a half a cent and income taxes on taxpayers earning more than $250,000. The increases would expire in five years.

The proposal would, Louis Freedberg wrote in the EdSource web site, “yield billions of dollars for California schools.”

Brown will have a tough fight. Other well-meaning people are proposing their own tax increase initiatives. Too many initiatives make defeat of all of them likely. The best thing concerned parents can do is pressure all of them to get behind one measure, and then campaign like mad in the fall.

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