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Calif. budget crisis to affect schools?

September 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Without their state funding, California schools have been unable to hire enough teachers.The Association of California School Administrators estimates there are 40,000 to 50,000 vacancies statewide. The result: overcrowded classrooms.

High-school senior Donte Mayer feels the overcrowding. He is afraid of falling behind because his teachers won't be able to help him as often.

"There's a lot of people doing different things. So, if it's one teacher, it's hard to pay attention to everybody," said Mayer.

While schools have enough money to run the basics, they still don't know how much Sacramento has allotted them. So many expenses are on hold.

For some schools, that means updated textbooks have not been purchased. For others, some school bus routes have had to be cancelled or consolidated, forcing students to walk or ride on the bus longer. In addition, some after-school tutorials have virtually shut down.

"I've had to be extremely conservative with my site budget because I don't know how much I'm going to get so we just do the minimum with the money you have. And then you hope for more," said high-school principal Jackie Levy.

California School Superintendent Jack O'Connell says schools are supposed to get $2.5 billion on Sept. 15. However, with lawmakers still fighting over the budget, it is likely the state will not make that payment either.

"We're setting our students up for failure. It's going to be more difficult for our kids to pass the High School Exit Exam, perform well on our standardized tests. They won't be prepared for college and university," said O'Connell.

Administrators wonder if and when the budget finally does get adopted, if their schools will even recover.

Many teaching applicants have already found jobs elsewhere and the supply of textbooks may be gone by the time the state is able to place an order.

A few lucky school districts were able to borrow money or dip into reserves to get them by. However, most are simply crossing their fingers.

"We feel like we're operating on blind faith," said Principal Levy.

 

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