Around 30 concerned parents gathered at Beethoven Street Elementary School library on Thursday night in an effort to find ways to deal with the $80,272 in projected cuts for the school's 2011-2012 budget.
While most of those in attendance were parents of children at Beethoven, several parents from neighboring schools, including Grand View Boulevard Elementary and Mark Twain Middle School showed up, hoping to glean information that they could put to use in their own schools.
Denny Hallam, the coordinator in charge of Beethoven's budget, presented attendees with a flier outlining some of the staff and services that will be cut next year by the school district.
Hallam said the school nurse position and the librarian position will be cut, and many of the teachers assistants’ hours reduced. Other services that will be cut include the office clerk position and the school psychologist position.
Hallam urged parents to help maintain these services by setting up private fundraising efforts. “These are some of the issues that we can do something about. ” he said.
Andrea Andrews, co-president of the Friends of Beethoven's booster club told Patch the school is looking at private funding and applying for grants to try and protect the services provided by the school, including the school's nurse and psychologist.
Andrews said there are "hundreds" of grants available to schools like Beethoven that the school can apply for. She said the school received library grants of $5,000 each for this school year from the Wonder of Reading Foundation and the Sawchuk Family Foundation to improve the library space and add books.
Steve Pine, whose two children currently attend Beethoven, said he'd like to see more parents contribute to the fundraising efforts.
“Every parent privileged enough to have children at this school should be contributing to the Beethoven program,” he said.
Beethoven first-grade teacher and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) union representative Carolyn Mills urged parents to stand with teachers and pressure the state and LAUSD to halt the cuts. She called on parents to write to legislators and stage demonstrations against the cuts.
Heather Austin, whose son attends Grand View Elementary, said that parents statewide should work together to get more funding for all students, not just their individual schools.
Austin cited examples from atitled “Free Fall: Education Opportunities in 2011” including the state’s low spending per pupil, high student/teacher ratio and less instructional days than the national average as reasons that the issue should go beyond Beethoven Elementary.
“These three things alone should make you angry and concerned for our children,” she told attendees. “If we don’t invest more now while the children are young, then we’re going to spend a lot more money as a community further down the line.”
“Beethoven shares the same struggle with budgets" as other schools like Mark Twain, said Federico Ceballos, chairperson of the Compository Education Advisory Committee that helps with parent concerns at Mark Twain Middle School. "We are cutting a bunch of different positions like the librarian and reducing the number of days that the nurse is working," he told Patch.
The Beethoven Elementary forum was just one in a series of ongoing meetings designed to help parents and schools come up with ways to address the budget cuts. The UTLA-West Area is sponsoring a forum for the Mar Vista and Venice communities on district budget cuts on April 11 at 5:30 p.m. at Mark Twain Middle School.