If the teacher's union agrees to the district's proposed furloughs, many of the schools that make-up the successful early education program could be saved, according to LAUSD officials. Kim Baldonado reports.
Budget cuts might force the closure of some LAUSD early education centers, such as Chase Early Education Center in Panorama City -- a place where a visitor might a 3-year-old working on a computer or playing in a sandbox.
"They acquire language skills, math skills, they develop social skills," said Terri Winbush, principal of the full-day preschool, which is one of 107 such centers run by the LA Unified School District. "When we prepare them for kindergarten, they're ready. Their test scores go up; they're able to communicate with other children, able to communicate with teachers."
Children in the program are not only given a place to run around, they're learning, said Monica Padilla, a preschool teacher and the parent of five children, including two high school students.
"Both have 20 college credits already," Padilla said of her high schoolers. "They're so advanced and I think it came from preschool."
Private preschools are not an option for most LAUSD parents who can’t afford to pay the "outrageous" costs, said Windbush. The demand for high quality, affordable preschool education is so high that most schools have huge waiting lists. Chase Early Education Center has had a waiting list since it opened.
Funding for 84 of the 107 full-day preschools could be restored if the teachers union agrees to proposed furloughs, LAUSD officials said.
While negotiations could take several months, the district said the centers will remain open until June. Beyond that depends on the budget outlook.