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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: School Cuts Survey Raises Hackles

A Las Palmas Elementary mom says PTA already funds lots of programs slated for big cuts.

Editor's Note: Dawn Urbanek sent the following email to Patch after Las Palmas Elementary sent home a survey with her child asking parents what programs should be cut at the school.

The Las Palmas Elementary School pupils who return the following survey get 100 points for their table; a scholar dollar, which allows students to buy stuff from the class treasure chest; or a 25 Piper Pride Ticket, which lets students buy from the Principals Treasure Chest on Thursdays; or a "sparkly pencil" of any color.

The Survey asks the following:

The current budget crisis will make a difference here at Las Palmas for the next school year. We need to hear your voice to help us to decide what programs to try and save if at all possible.

The following list includes items that are slated for reduction. Please give us your opinion on what is important to you and your family.

Please rank on a scale from 1-7 with 1 being "Please don't cut," and 7 being, "We can survive without this for now." Please use each number only once.

_______  Primary Music ($7,000): GRADE K- 1

_______  Primary Music ($7,000): GRADES 2- 3

_______  Field Trips ($12,000): Grades K- 5

_______  Meet The Masters ($8,000): Grades K- 5

_______  Intervention Program ($8,000): Grades K- 2

_______  Keep Smaller Class Size ($85,000 - $170,000) Grades 1- 3

_______  School Supplies ($20,000): Grades K- 5

Please return to your classroom teacher by Friday, April 27th

The following is my response to this survey and I have already told my child that I will be happy to buy every child in the class a "sparkly pencil."

_______  Primary Music ($7,000): GRADE K- 1

Primary Music has not been paid for by the district in years. The PTA and other fundraising pays for primary music. the current $30-50 million in cuts the district needs to make will have no effect on primary music

_______  Primary Music ($7,000): GRADES 2- 3

Primary music has not been paid for by the district in Years. The PTA and other fundraising pays for this. The current $30-50 million in cuts the district needs to make will have no effect on primary music

_______  Field Trips ($12,000): Grades K- 5

Field Trips have not been paid for by the district in years. The PTA and other fundraising pays for field trips. The current $30-50 million in cuts the District needs to make will have no effect on field trips.

_______  Meet The Masters ($8,000): Grades K- 5

Meet The Masters has not been paid for by the District in Years. The PTA and other fundraising pays for Meet The Masters. The current $30-50 million in cuts the district needs to make will have no effect on Meet The Masters

_______  Intervention Program ($8,000): Grades K- 2

I guess this year you are asking for the PTA and other fundraising to now pay for intervention K-2?

_______  Keep Smaller Class Size ($85,000 - $170,000) Grades 1- 3

Las Palmas Elementary School gets a $225,000 grant from the Leonard Foundation to maintain class size reduction. Where is the other $55,000 being spent?

_______  School Supplies ($20,000): Grades K- 5

The "FREE SCHOOL GUARANTEE" of the California Constitution mandates that school districts must pay for school supplies. The ACLU Settlement Agreement (page 33) specifically states that school supplies must be furnished by school districts without charge:


California law provides "Writing and drawing paper, pens, inks, blackboards, blackboard erasers, crayons, lead pencils and other necessary supplies for the use of the schools shall be furnished under direction of the governing boards of the school districts" (Education Code section 38118).

Based on this section, the Attorney General has concluded that materials and mechanical drawing sets for art classes, cloth for dressmaking classes, wood for carpentry classes, gym suits and shoes for physical education classes, bluebooks necessary for examinations, and paper on which to write a theme or report when such a theme or report is a required assignment must be furnished by school district without charge as necessary supplies.

Such supplies appear to be supplies that must be available to students in order to participate in regular classroom work in the particular subjects involved.

Unbelievable, especially given the fact that that CUSD has provided a 63-percent increase in employee compensation over the last 12 years; while at the same time, CUSD has had to cut $98 million dollars from its budget.

Tom Barnes April 24, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Notice that cutting the District office personnel is not on the survey. Sell the Taj Mahal district office. Relocate the district employees to a rented double wide trailer. Four employees at the district should be more than enough. This reform would enable all of those programs to be kept. In my 35 years of teaching I never used the district office and found it to be an impediment not an aide to education.
Marcus Walton April 24, 2012 at 04:57 PM
To clarify, this was a survey sent out by Las Palmas Elementary School to discuss what should take priority for site-based funds, not the District's overall budget. The school will lose a significant amount of funding from a large benefactor as well as some categorical funding from the state. The survey was intended for the PTA and School Site Council to get feedback from parents on their funding priorities. In addition, each student in the Capistrano Unified School District is guaranteed, and receives, a free and appropriate public education. This survey refers to the $20,000 per year the PTA spends in additional supplies. Again, if any of you have questions or need documentation, feel free to contact me directly at mewalton@capousd.org. Marcus Walton Chief Communications Officer Capistrano Unified School District

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