An autumn breeze fuels a dancing collage of leaves and litter on Pierce College’s Mall, its hushed roar casting a sickly ironic serenity under the midday sunlight of a school gunning towards a cliff.
The state is $15.7 billion in the hole.
That figure has risen from $9.2 billion since January.
$46.4 million of the Los Angeles Community College District’s state funding was cut in the past year, and the District is scrambling to stay afloat with those tens of millions gone.
The cuts have forced the LACCD to, as the District’s Chancellor Daniel LaVista writes, “balance the needs of its students, faculty, and staff with having colleges further reduce classes, restrict hiring, and freeze purchasing in addition to using balances to minimize impact on programs and services.”
An all-caps “We’re running out of rope!” would have been fine.
Anyway, that was then; This is worse.
The LACCD’s final budget of the 2012-2013 school year outlines the worst case scenario wherein Proposition 30, a state tax initiative to fund schools, doesn’t pass.
That gut-churning account of a sinking ship LaVista described with business-memo verbiage?
Remember those tens of millions of dollars taken from the budget this last year?
They’ll be joined by hundreds of millions more dollars, the budget projects.
LACCD will be left with a tick under $340 million less in state funding.
The semantics of the cutting of classes, the laying off of teachers and other employees, and the crumbling infrastructure of California’s education system are devastating, but also pointless to mention.
Plainly put, the cuts would plant the LACCD, along with the rest of the state’s schools, deeper in the red than any helping hand could reach.
As Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University, put it, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
For some, the indicators may be few and far between: garbled in television commercials, chasing after you as you walk out of class while your professor plugs voting, remembering that class that flipped that switch in you.
But that autumn wind, the same one that’s been howling past Pierce’s students for 65 fall semesters, is speaking with a shaky voice.
Anyone with their head above water should be biting his nails until Prop. 30 passes.