Budget Crisis Affects Teachers' Pockets and Students' Plates

Teachers and students continue to suffer under the latest budget cuts

Unions representing teachers, administrators and the nation's largest school district have agreed to shorten the school year by five days this year to alleviate about one fifth of a looming $640 million budget shortfall.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines and union officials said the pay sacrifices agreed to by unions representing teachers and administrators will avoid increases in class sizes, and laying off more than 284 school employees such as librarians, nurses and counselors.

Teachers will take five unpaid furlough days this year, and seven unpaid days off next year, saving the district $180 million.

Teacher and other school employees are not the only ones affected by the LAUSD budget deficit. Many students are feeling the budget pinch as cutbacks are being made everywhere, according to the Hunger in the Golden State journalism project.

The project interviewed four ninth graders, among the 3,300 students at the James A. Foshay Learning Center, who are part of a growing number of South Los Angeles schoolchildren considered "food insecure," meaning their families lack access to sufficient food.

"Despite the rise in food-insecure children, Foshay principal Yvonne Edwards said that the district budget cuts are starting to limit the amount of food assistance schools can deliver. This has made it difficult for school officials to meet the growing demand for public school students to eat for free or at a lower cost."

"The leadership of our unions has stepped up in these difficult times to be partners in service to our students and families," said Board President Monica Garcia in a statement released to the press.

LAUSD officials, meanwhile, are "fighting rising food and structural costs," said food service supervisor, Florence Simpson, to Neon Tommy the voice of USC Annenberg digital news. "Each year, we fight a battle with how we're going to balance the budget... but at some point, it might actually affect what's on the student's plate."

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