Parents Vent About Increased Class Sizes at Capo Unified

Community members, parents and students expressed worries about deep cuts in an open forum with Capo Superintendent Joe Farley Tuesday.

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.”






LeAna Bui March 09, 2012 at 05:45 PM
Sharon: I actually agree with you about merit teacher pay. I also think we need to make it easier to eliminate non performing teachers. I don't know if this requires abolishing unions or not, but you must understand with all the "teacher hating" going on on chats like this and the actions of the previous "reform" board only strengthen the union, they don't weaken it. However, doing this doesn't necessarily mean you are going to lower costs. Get unions out of politics - I agree, but also get religion out of politics, get big business out of politics. Unfortunately, our courts have held that doing this infringes free speech so it is not going to happen anytime soon and would not help current education problems.
LeAna Bui March 09, 2012 at 06:00 PM
OC Mom: CA regulations are what is driving business out of CA, not taxes. Sure, taxes don't help, but the primary problem for businesses in CA is the struggle to get things done here because of the burdensome regulations. Remove the regulations. However, be prepared for an increase in water pollutions, smog, traffic, all those lovely things that regulations protect us from. Companies go offshore for cheaper labor and materials. And have you seen the living/working conditions in places like Thailand, China, India, Malaysia? You are saying to the teachers - everyone else is taking a pay cut, so you should, too. That is socialism. By the way, not everyone is taking a pay cut. Those at the top of the pay scales have seen their pay/portfolios increase in the last 5-8 years, not decrease. Also, while the private sector was enjoying tremendous increases in the 1990s and early 2000s, public sector was living with small COLA increases of less than 5% usually. It seems to me that if they can't enjoy the perks of private employments, why should they pay the costs of private employment? Don't like the public pensions, take it up with the local boards, councils, and legislatures that voted to authorize these "generous" pensions. Where were you when these were being voted on? I remember being outraged, but was told by an OC Supervisor at that time that there was nothing to worry about and this was after the 1994 bankruptcy.
Capo mom March 09, 2012 at 07:50 PM
CUSD's budget issues predate the state and country's economic problems. The one of first boarding meetings I attended in CUSD was when Flemming announced he was "retiring". The district was struggling with budget cuts then. That was 2006. The economic downturn made things worse in CUSD, definitely. And how did CUEA respond? By striking, supporting more layoffs, dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into our local school board election and taking money where ever they could. During the 4 and a half years of this economic crisis, as class sizes have increased and programs have been slashed, teachers have been and will continue to be laid off without regard to their ability or effectiveness. However teacher salaries have continued to rise, 5.2% this past year. We get less, they get more. It is that simple. We hear that the public isn't willing to do "anything"? Excuse me, every taxpayer in the state of California does plenty by paying taxes for public education, whether they have children enrolled there or not. And it is never enough because with the union in control, no amount can ever be enough. My priority is my children's education. That is far too important to trust to CUEA. We have seen what its priorities are. CUEA is not concerned with the education of my children or anyone else's in CUSD. That much is clear. Until CUSD gets loose from CUEA, giving more money to CUSD is like giving cash to crackheads.
Capo mom March 09, 2012 at 08:09 PM
I think it is too telling that some think the solution is restrict access to education for handicapped students or what the pc term for them is these days. Every student has the right to appropriate public education. This is probably true especially for disabled students. Sure let's deny a fragile minority their civil rights so that teachers' salaries can continue to increase. And when that isn't enough, what is the next demographic to get thrown under the bus? Hispanics? These same posters say that if you have a problem with public employee compensation, which is not a civil right and was closer to 8% in CUSD in the time frames mentioned, they should essentially write their congressman (who, by the way, wouldn't dare stand against the teachers union). That is really a good one. Until CUSD gets loose from CUEA, giving more money to CUSD is like giving cash to crackheads.
Capo Parent March 09, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Shelly Go back and read my posts my position is the same.What you and the other union cheerleaders fail or refuse to realize is that at the current rate of growth, salaries & benefits will consume 100% of CUSD's budget; they already comprise 92%. Since the other 8% has been cut to the bone and beyond, salaries & benefits, WHICH HAVE BEEN RESTORED, need to be cut. This is simple math that even you an CUSD can follow. OC Mom I have no problem with handicape/special ed students having access to public education. My cocnern is how much more per student CUSD has to pay for a handicape, special need and/or special ed student. While these students should not be discriminated against, neither should they receive greater funding than a normal, average studnet. For a number of years, public schools have been titled to the smart & gifted (Gate, AP, IB), the low end (Title 1, grants) and the special needs (virtually unlimited resources & money to achieve a suitable & appropriate education) Every student should get the same funding allocation, period. This would equalize funding across the board and eliminate unexpected shortfalls. Sadly, this will not occur because it makes too much sense.


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