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Monday, February 26, 2024


Q&A: Understanding California’s budget and its impact on schools
In January, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, addressing a projected $37 billion shortfall for 2024-25. That might not be the worst of it. With tax collections coming in lower than expected, a recent report from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says the deficit could be as high as $73 billion.

Weekly roundup: KTLA spotlights Academic Decathlon champs, Sowers Middle School gets a new campus, and more
KTLA 5 Morning News reporter Megan Telles was live in Irvine on Wednesday morning to help Woodbridge High School celebrate its latest Academic Decathlon victory. The visit was part of KTLA’s School Spirit Spotlight series, showcasing the achievements of Southern California’s students and educators. Woodbridge has no shortage of success stories to share. In fact, the high-performing Irvine Unified School District campus recently secured its seventh championship in eight years at the Orange County Academic Decathlon, which was held over two Saturdays on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3.


Youth diversity art contest winners’ work will be seen by 1 million O.C. Fair visitors
Three budding local artists will soon debut their work in grandiose fashion, taking their talents from the classroom to the fairgrounds to deliver a message of inclusion to more than 1 million visitors to the O.C. Fair. An inaugural Plaza Pacifica Youth Diversity Art Competition sought visual art submissions from students ages 13 to 17 throughout the county focusing on themes of diversity, equity and inclusion with an Orange County flair. Winners would receive $500 and the chance to see their creations displayed throughout the duration of this year’s county fair in a student art gallery, on buildings and larger-than-life digital screens and on the website and social media accounts of the OC Fair & Event Center.


How San Diego Unified plans to close a nearly $94 million budget gap
San Diego Unified officials shed more light Friday on how they plan to bridge what they now expect is a $93.7 million budget gap for next school year — a plan that includes cutting dozens of central office staff positions and spending down district reserves.


Key Bay Area school bond measures and parcel taxes: What you should know
More than a dozen Bay Area school bond measures and parcel taxes are slated for the March 5 ballot this year, aiming to secure a minimum of $1.9 billion over the course of several years to improve school facilities and student learning outcomes.


Inland Empire nonprofit awards scholarships to high school students from single-parent homes
Creating legacies is key for Evelyn E. Perkins Scholarship Foundation. The organization was founded in 2006 by Michelle Heard, Danessa Jackson and Trudi Perkins, the daughters of the late Evelyn E. Perkins, an educator in the region. Since its inception, the nonprofit group has awarded nearly $50,000 in scholarships to high school students from single-parent homes in several Inland Empire school districts in Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.


Legislative Analyst update projects bigger funding drop for schools, community colleges
The Legislative Analyst’s Office is warning superintendents and school boards working on their next year’s budget that more storm clouds are on the fiscal horizon. In a Feb. 15 report, the LAO forecast that further erosion of state revenues will likely reduce state funding for TK-12 by an additional $7.7 billion – $5.2 billion in 2023-24 and $2.7 billion in 2025-26. That would be on top of the $13.7 billion shaving that Gov. Newsom announced in his proposed budget for the current budget cycle that he released just a month ago.

Temecula Valley Unified can continue enforcing transgender policy, CRT ban
While litigation moves forward, the Temecula Valley Unified District can enforce its transgender notification policy as well as its ban on Critical Race Theory, which restricts instruction on race and gender more broadly, Superior Court of Riverside County Judge Eric A. Keen ruled Friday. In what seemed to be a contradiction to this decision, Keen had ruled on Feb. 15, that the case – Mae M. v. Komrosky – filed on behalf of the district’s teachers union, teachers, parents and students, in August by Ballard Spahr and the country’s largest pro-bono law firm Public Counsel LLP — will move forward.

Funding is running out for a school program that provides temporary housing to homeless families
More than 200 families displaced by widespread flooding in San Diego County on Jan. 22 received support through Project Rest, a school program that provides homeless families with temporary housing. But its funding stream of one-time Covid money is dwindling, and the program is set to expire in September, the San Diego Union Tribune reported. “It highly affects attendance when you’re that transitory,” Andrea Frost, homeless and foster youth liaison for La Mesa-Spring Valley School District, told the Union Tribune. “And when you affect attendance, it affects everything else.”


Concerned parents are beginning to see progress on their push for healthier electric school buses
The first electric school buses in the United States began running a decade ago in three school districts in California, providing a ride that was much less noisy, smelly and dirty than the diesel buses kids and parents were used to. Yet despite the availability of the technology all these years, fewer than one percent of the 489,000 school buses in the U.S. were electric at the end of 2023. That means nearly all the buses that take many of the nation’s children to school still run on a fuel that sends contaminants into the air and is carcinogenic.

Gas, food, lodging for homeless students in jeopardy as funding deadline looms
For the past two months, home for Lori Menkedick and her family has been the Evergreen Inn, a Los-Angeles area motel just off Interstate-210. They’ve bounced between similar establishments east of downtown for almost three years. But room rates consume most of the $650 a week her husband earns from construction. The family depends on prepaid grocery cards from the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District to cover other basic needs.

PUSD looks to save some employees after approving more than 200 layoffs
In the wake of an emotional meeting in which the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education approved laying off and eliminating more than 200 staff positions, Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Blanco on Friday, Feb. 23, said the district still hopes to save some employees before the action is finalized. At their Thursday, Feb. 22 meeting, board trustees voted 4-3 for two resolutions that list 109.4 full time equivalent positions from certified staff and 102 classified positions to be cut. According to an email message from the district, a total of 224 positions will receive preliminary notices of the layoffs, 91 of those which were already vacant.

Hart School District votes to lay off teachers, staff members
The William S. Hart School District governing board has voted to layoff about 80 teachers and staff members and will begin sending out notices next week. The Hart school district is facing a budget shortfall because of declining student enrollment and decided at its board meeting on Wednesday to lay off more than 50 teachers and counselors and about 30 staff members. An independent review of the district’s budget, shared at the meeting on Wednesday, shows a need to cut costs because of a decrease in state funding.

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