By Heather Martin
The latest casualty of the budget crisis will be our children, their parents and entire communities as the imminent cancellation of free after school programs at 187 schools in LAUSD looms over an estimated 14,000 kids unless parents demand an alternative solution to the budget shortfalls facing LAUSD for the next fiscal year.*
At Dahlia Heights Elementary School in Eagle Rock, CA, parents were recently information of the planned elimination of the Youth Services program that is funded by LAUSD with support from the votes of the Board of Education. In addition, parents were also informed that the Youth Development Program (YDP) was also planned for elimination, funded previously by a grant from the State of California. The elimination of the YDP program, funded by the California Department of Education, could affect up to 17 schools and 337 jobs. The meeting informed parents who cannot get their children before 3pm that they would now have to pay $250 per child per month in order to continue after school care.
On the LAUSD website, it states the $7.5 million cut to “Beyond the Bell” will eliminate the Youth Services after school program. David Estrada, senior policy advisor to LAUSD Board of Education Member Bennett Kayser, indicated to Dahlia Heights parents that in order to prevent elimination of the after school programs, four Board of Education Members need to confirm that they will NOT approve the budget if these programs are eliminated.
The State of California and LAUSD are facing budget shortfalls, but it does not make sense to cut after school development programs for our children, leaving young people without creative and safe after school programs to keep them out of trouble, furthermore burdening parents during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression with both increased costs and/or the burden of picking children up around three in the afternoon each day. There must be an alternative or a creative solution we can conceive together, as a collective force for the betterment of our communities.
One alternative option could be the LA Fund, a partnership between LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and Philanthropist Megan Chernin, a non-profit founded in the summer of 2011 to support ideas that have a “direct impact on kid’s lives.”
Parents and supporters of free after school programs need to contact both the LAUSD Superintendent and Board of Education (for Youth Services Programs), as well as the California Department of Education (for YDP). You can also speak out against the cancellation of these programs by signing the petition below and reaching out to your local representatives with your concerns.
As Mr. Estrada stated at the end of his speech, “It is important. . .Imagine having the doors close at 3 o’clock, what kind of chaos that will do.”
• Department of Education (YDP Program): Michael Funk, Director of After School Division, Mfunk@cde.ca.gov, (916) 319-0923
• LAUSD (Youth Services): Boardmember Bennett Kayser BoardDistrict5@lausd.net, http://laschoolboard.org/
• LA Fund: http://www.lafund.org/overview.php
* Statistics from David Estrada, senior policy advisor to LAUSD Board of Education Member Bennett Kayser, stated June 15, 2012 meeting at Dahlia Heights Elementary meeting.