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Dispatches: Parents Called On to Support Cash Strapped Schools

For principals in Highland Park and Mount Washington, the first day of classes were a time to welcome back students and face new challenges.

After only one full day of classes, principals of several local elementary schools said they are already facing the challenges presented by the nearly made by the Los Angeles Unified School District Last spring.

For Juan Gonzalez, principal of , the district's budget crisis meant the elimination of the school's supervisors, who were responsible for monitoring student behavior during lunch and recess hours.

"Today was the first rude awakening point," according to Gonzalez, who said he ended up spending two-and-a-half hours supervising students himself. 

Gonzalez joked that the day's extreme heat, which touched 102 degrees, played a key role in slowing down the normally rambunctious elementary school students 

"The heat definitely slowed them down," he said. "We just don't have the staff to supervise properly right now."

Marco Nava, principal of , said a lack of supervisors was also felt on his campus.

"Our supervisory staff was really deeply cutback," Nava said. "It's going to be a huge challenge."

Both Nava and Gonzalez said they'll need to ask either parents or teachers to fill the void left by the cuts to their supervisory staffs.

"I'll be asking teachers," Nava said. "Some of them are really happy to do it, others are already feeling really stretched thin."

Like many LAUSD schools that are forced to operate with limited resources, both Garvanza and Annandale often find themselves relying on volunteer groups like the Friends of Annandale Elementary school or the Garvanza Elementary School Parent Center to help fill the gaps.

"We've got a very active parent center at Garvanza," Gonzalez said. "I'll be talking to them on Thursday about the challenges. They've been really awesome."

At , Principal Elizabeth Valentino said she was able to anticipate and budget for the need for supervisors last spring.

However, Valentino said that because Mount Washington Elementary opted for an open enrollment process for the 2011 school year, they are currently facing class sizes in the low and mid 30s in both kindergarten and first grade.

"The staffing levels were completely approparite based on our projected enrollment from last spring, but that didn't account for all the extra students we receieved through open enrollment," Valentino said.

According to Valentino, Mount Washington Elementary should be able to hire one or two more teachers within the month to address the large teacher to student ratios.

"In the meantime we've put all our resources in those classrooms: teachers assistants, supervisors. We want to make sure those students are well supported," Valentino said.

This story is part of Patch's nationwide series " Tell us what issues and what local stories go to the heart of your American Dream. Please contact editor David Fonseca at david.fonseca@patch.com.

Scott Folsom September 08, 2011 at 09:24 PM
Juan Gonzalez, principal of Garvanza Elementary School: "We just don't have the staff to supervise properly right now." Yard supervision is first and foremost about student safety.. How does one define 'properly'? There is an implication that parents may be (or are being) ask(ed) to volunteer to replace RIF'ed/laid-off employees. This violates collective bargaining agreements - and (it is my understanding) federal and/or state labor law. And I am concerned about inadequately supervised kids on the yard in 102 degree heat! See THE LAUSD EXCESSIVE HEAT POLICY - BULLETIN 963 | http://scr.bi/o2olSt Obviously, if kids' safety is in question - sign me up to help on the yard - but....
carol van beek September 09, 2011 at 01:13 AM
I attended private schools with up to 32 students per classroom. I never heard of a teacher's aid or yard supervisor. There was never another adult in the classroom other than the teacher. They rotated doing playground duty. These LAUSD teachers sure seem to have it easy.
Susan R September 09, 2011 at 02:47 PM
I agree It was the same way at LAUSD way back. I don't know when those rules changed. But the school principal can budget the way they choose with either spending their money for teachers aids or yard aids or spending more money on books or school trips. It is up to the school to decide how to spend the money they get.
Crisanta Velazquez September 10, 2011 at 07:09 AM
Public schools exist to educate all students. Children who attend private schools already start with an advantage in that their parents care and are going to be involved in their child's education since they are paying for it. A typical inner-city kinder classroom will have children who have never held a pencil or set foot in preschool. We work with students who are emotionally, verbally and/or physically abused. When a teacher is in the classroom he/she is "on" every minute and it can be draining. A recess and lunch break free of student supervision is a well deserved and earned break. Most, if not all, schools submit a budget which requires parent and teacher input and approval. Because in today's society people can sue over just about anything, principals must always put student safety first and that requires a lot of supervision. I would invite anyone who has never volunteered in a classroom to do so, especially in a low income and low performing school. I guarantee you will walk away with a new found respect for the hard work teachers perform day in and day out.
Susan R September 10, 2011 at 04:40 PM
I agree that parents that are "stay at home" parents should volunteer in the classroom. And, that should be mandatory since their kids are getting a free education provided by taxpayers. Many charter schools require it. At least teachers get a break at recess and lunch. Many people work hard and long hours without any breaks. And, that is draining. Not only teachers have draining jobs, many occupations do.

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