As part of a the wave of crippling budget cuts sweeping the state, The Alhambra Unified School District recently laid off all of its adult education teachers — 26.7 full-time equivalent positions — and eliminated the program. The Alhambra Feed asked Superintendent Donna Pérez about why this action was taken, what other cuts are on the horizon, and what Alhambra residents can do to support their schools.
Can you explain to me the decision to reduce adult education?
Adult Education is a service to the community; K-12 education is our mission. Many school districts do not run adult education classes. In crisis times difficult decisions have to be made about where to make budget cuts. Since adult education falls outside of K-12 education, reductions are going to affect them. The Board of Education and administration are trying to keep budget cuts as far away from the K-12 classrooms as possible so that our students get the best education possible and student achievement rises.
What happened to those students currently enrolled in adult education?
Our classes run through the middle of June, as do our K-12 classes. Lay offs are not in effect until next school year. At that time adults can seek classes with churches, junior colleges that offer adult classes and in other cities that offer adult classes. We will rehire several teachers to continue to run adult education classes that lead to a high school diploma or GED (diploma equivalent), since it is our mission to educate students to the level of a high school diploma. We will also advertise classes at a fee (presently all classes are free) to cover costs of the classes. If enough students can pay for adult ed classes to cover the overhead, those classes will be offered and teachers will be rehired to teach them.
What are the current existing services that might be at risk of being reduced or eliminated?
After our reduction to Adult Education, we will probably cut positions as people retire. When someone retires it is best not to rehire for that position; that way we save by not rehiring, and we don’t have to cut someone’s job. No one loses a job and we save money. We will be looking at additional cuts later next year for 2011-12.
Do you envision the types of cuts Pasadena and the LAUSD are making happening in Alhambra?
We are not envisioning these types of cuts at this time. It is evident, however, that no district can continue to cut their budget in these great proportions without getting to the same point as LAUSD and Pasadena sooner or later.
What are other options for raising revenue for the district either locally or statewide?
Districts can propose a parcel tax that the residents must vote on (2/3 vote to pass). Pasadena is doing this. We are not seeking this tax at this time, but may consider it at a later date.
And, generally, how can members of the community support the district?
We would like parents to work with their local school to provide help and assistance through their PTA groups and by talking to teachers and the principal about helping in classrooms.
Interview was edited and condensed.