Budget cuts shutter 21 alternative schools

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES Pam Wright's alternative school in Pomona was shut down.

"My students are pregnant minors or parenting minors and there really is not another alternative for them," said Wright, now a former teacher.

Darlene Robles, /*LACOE*/ superintendent, said the state demanded she cut deep to balance her books, and given her funding comes directly from the state and not the county, she did just that.

So 21 alternative schools are under the axe.

"Last year, we were cut $2,000 per student under our community day school funding and we realized then we were now running a deficit," Robles said.

On Tuesday, the /*Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors*/ made it clear that they'd rather the schools stay open. However, they're powerless to prevent the closures.

"We are powerless to keep the schools open," said Don Knabe with the board of supervisors. "What we're not powerless to do is raise attention levels to say, 'Hey, let's not look at it as a budget issue, let's be creative. Can we do something in our probation camps? In our halls? Can we do that?' And we want you to look at that."

"So many of our kids have achieved and graduated and are going to college, but there are issues out there where they can go back into the areas that they were trying to get away from," said Rudy Spively, a laid off teacher.

The LACOE acts as a service agency to all school districts in the county.

Robles said there's a possibility that at least 10 of the alternative schools that were cut could be reestablished if school districts decide to pay the excess cost to keep them open.

"They're always district students," Robles said. "They're not LACOE students. They belong to the district. If the district is willing to pay that excess cost, then we are willing to operate them."

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