LAUSD kindergarten may get cut in half

LOS ANGELES The district is trying to balance a $131 million budget deficit.

The proposed cuts keep coming, and so do the protests.

Concerned by LAUSD's efforts to balance its budget by reducing school programs, an Aztec dance troupe protested Friday morning.

"We are very concerned of all the cuts, and we are confident that the board will be able to find a better way," said protester Judith Cuauhdmoc.

LAUSD Board Superintendent /*Ramon Cortines*/ is talking about cutting back on the kindergarten program, making it a half day instead of a full day starting in 2011.

An increase in class size is proposed, from 20 students to 29 students, and there would be more cuts to arts and music programs within the district.

Cortines said part of the problem is the way the money is allocated by Sacramento. School officials said they don't know how much money will be available in the future.

"I am budgeting for a worst case scenario. I have done that from the beginning. You can't take to the bank hot air and promises, and so I'm looking at the whole issue in a realistic way," he said.

The teachers' union agreed to a new contract on Thursday, one that does not include wage increases.

Union officials said they understand the problem is much bigger than just L.A. Unified.

"California being the seventh largest economy in the world, really is one of the economic engines of the United States, and if California goes under, the rest of the country is going to be in bad shape," said UTLA president A.J. Duffy.

Cortines said he is not giving up on his efforts to find new funding for the district. He is planning to go to the school board to propose a new property tax within the L.A. Unified District, calling it a parcel tax. He will make that proposal at Tuesday's school board meeting.

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