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LAUSD Will Sue To Block New California Budget Cut

Paresh Dave |
December 13, 2011 | 12:56 p.m. PST

Editor-In-Chief

The state of California will not subsidize public school buses in the first half of 2012 and will reduce funding for the UC and CSU systems as part of an additional $1 billion in budget cuts, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday.

The cuts, which add to $15 billion in reductions made earlier this year, will also affect libraries, child care, the elderly and disabled and the prison system. Besides the busing cut, public K-12 schools will lose about a half-day of funding.

L.A. Unified Superintendent John Deasy said Tuesday the district would file a lawsuit on Wednesday to block the cut to school busing because the funding is essential to meet court-mandated civil rights standards that have been in place since 1981.

"A cut of this magnitude is devastating," Deasy said before Tuesday's LAUSD school board meeting. The board approved the lawsuit in closed session.

About 48,000 students receive constitutionally protected school bus service, Deasy said. He added that diverting money meant for classrooms to fund transportation for the students would also violate court orders, leaving the district to choose between illegal options unless a court intervenes to block the unprecedented cut.

Deasy has warned that $38 million cut to LAUSD's transportation fund will force it to eliminate half of its 1,600 bus routes, offer transit passes rather than school buses to about 25,000 students and cancel buses for athletics and field trips.

Saying that "a student's constitutional right is not frivolous," Deasy said the lawsuit was merited.

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson said in a statement, "Mothballing school bus fleets across the state will mean many rural, disabled, and low-income students literally will have no safe way to get to school. Children will lose child care, students will lose the opportunity for a college education, and our overcrowded classrooms will continue to be jammed with 35 to 40 students. That’s not the kind of education or state we want. This is not the California our children deserve.”

Brown said a year from now the state might cut about $7 billion if voters in November 2012 don't approve a measure that increases sales and income taxes. The sales would rise a half-cent across the state while couples earning more than $500,000 and individuals earning more than $250,000 would see higher income taxes.

Despite the additional cuts to the UC and CSU systems, neither plans to raise tuition until at least next fall. Community colleges will be forced to raise fees by about $10 beginning in the summer.

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