Parents on Tuesday vented their frustrations to the superintendent about drastic budget cuts the district must make this year.
The about 25 parents and community members who spoke to the superintendent seemed most upset with the choice to .
Superintendent Joseph Farley opened up the floor for parents and community members during a “Conversation with the Superintendent” at ’s theater building in San Juan Capistrano.
“Our budget of $340 million is $100 million less than what it has been in the past,” said Farley. “We are at such a critical juncture, that any one, two or three additional children does not generate enough money.”
The district faces a potential $48 million budget cut unless tax payers vote to increase taxes in November. If the tax were approved, the budget cut would decrease to $30 million.
As it now stands, CUSD will increase class sizes from 31 to 33 students in kindergarten and also 30 to 31 students in first through third grades.
“It is what it is, and parents are concerned about classroom size,” said parent Steve Smith, Laguna Niguel resident. “One of the things that has been frustrating to me is the power of the unions and the tenure system that tend to keep teachers that aren’t good quality teachers.”
Smith’s daughter, who works on the newspaper, also attended the forum and voiced her concern about the 399 teachers and other employees with teaching certificates slated to receive pink slips.
“We are starting at the district office and then to schools,” said Farley. “We’re cutting as lean as it could possibly be.”
The 399 district employees facing layoffs make up a big percentage of the district's 2,100 or so teachers.
Despite the plethora of parent volunteers in a classroom of 35 children, teachers are finding it hard to keep the classes attention before they can teach, some said at the forum. Parents said they want creative ways for teachers to instruct a large class.
“I have spent at least half a day visiting classrooms in all but two schools, and I see kids interacting positively with the work they are getting,” said Farley. “What makes a difference is what happens between a teacher and a student in the classroom.”
Some parents disagreed with the superintendent’s points, and said the teachers conveyed to them that they are overwhelmed.
“The reality is unfortunately, we are at a point where it takes salary rollbacks, furlough days, class size and layoffs to fill the gap,” said Farley. “I don’t support this size of class, but I also have the responsibility to make this work.”