Please feel free to share (or copy and paste) the following letter to any parent or community member you know:
- The district has been irresponsible in its statements, spending, and long-term decision-making
- The district has not worked with its educators on areas as simple as calculating class size averages
- Class size has decreased by 18% since 2009 but despite our warnings, the district has kept staff levels the same
- The district's current problems could have been avoided if they worked with its educators. Until they work with us and exhaust all other options, the layoff notices must be rescinded.
We hope you had a wonderful Spring Break! As you know, there is a Board of Education meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) at 5:00 pm at Cherney Lecture Hall in BHHS. Unless there are a lot of comments from members of the public, the meeting is not expected to be long as the Installation Ceremony for the Beverly Hills City Council is starting at 7:00 pm.
With that being said, BHEA representatives will be at the Board Meeting to speak on your behalf. We encourage you to join us and invite others to do so as well.
Among the topics we will discuss:
"We have a lot of money, but we spend it. I tell everyone [at the state], 'We spend it like drunken sailors in port.'" - Chief Administrative Officer LaTanya Kirk Carter Latham (March 14 Board Meeting)
"BHUSD Chief Administrative Officer LaTanya Kirk-Carter Latham underscored that in the absence of an influx of funding–such as more money from the Joint Powers Agreement or donations from the community–the district will need to cut even more teachers in the future if it wants to avoid being taken over by the state." (Beverly Hills Courier, March 24)
BHEA sees these statements made by the district as highly inappropriate and irresponsible. Make no mistake: the district has enough money to NOT issue layoffs. It simply wants to hold on to a high reserve and blame teacher salaries for their problems. Educators are NOT the problem. The district's spending and decision-making process is the problem. The district's own Chief Administrative Officer has admitted so and is resorting to baseless fears about the district being taken over by the state in order to scare the community.
As a comparison, Culver City Unified is giving its educators a 3 percent raise this year (after a 6 percent raise last year) with no layoffs. Glendale Unified has a $10.5 million deficit but are looking at ways to reduce spending that do not include layoffs to classroom teachers.
Meanwhile, BHUSD is looking to EXPAND administrative staffing and INCREASE spending at the district office while having issued 23 layoffs. We find this unacceptable.
Grade 4-8 Class Size Average: What is the real number?
During the presentation of the Second Interim Budget at the March 14 Board of Education Meeting, Chief Administrative Office LaTanya Kirk Carter Latham reported that the average class size for Grades 4 to 8 in our district is 14.5. BHEA's own calculations, based on the current enrollment numbers of each instructional class period, puts the average class size at 20.1. Based on current enrollment numbers of all class periods without discrimination, the average class size for Grades 4-8 is 21.1.
BHEA believes the district arrived at its extremely low number because it did not calculate each class correctly. Certainly, the district did NOT work with BHEA to determine a number both sides could agree on. If the district and BHEA can have such a wide disparity on average class size (something that is easily ascertained), it is all the more important for both sides to sit down together to go over the district's budget carefully and collaboratively.
To the district's credit, Superintendent Michael Bregy has asked for a meeting with BHEA representatives to discuss the budget. A meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, March 30 at 3:15.
Staff Numbers Amidst Declining Enrollment
Since 2009, enrollment in BHUSD has decreased from 4943 to 4015 students. However, staffing has remained essentially the same. (Source: http://www.bhusd.org/accountability/) In fact, at each K-8 site, the number of teachers has actually increased. BHEA has regularly advised the district to avoid layoffs by allowing natural reductions in staff through retirements and voluntary resignations. The district has not listened and hired approximately 60 teachers since 2014. Of the 45 teachers still in the district, 20 have received layoff notices.
The recurring theme is clear: when the district makes decisions without the input of its educators, they create problems that are then unfairly blamed on the teachers and staff.
Until the district and its educators sit down and problem solve together and have exhausted all other options to save the district money, we believe the layoff notices should be rescinded immediately.
Special Education Teacher, BHHS