by Winston Chua
SAN GABRIEL – Let’s cutto the chase. San Gabriel is not the only city facing tough choices when itcomes to education. But it is facing difficult choices.
It is seriously considering increasing class sizes,from a 20:1 ratio to a 23:1 ratio. School board member Steve Svorkin vows to doeverything in his power to stop that from happening. Svorkin is the city clerk of the San Gabriel board who wantsto maintain the high level of education that San Gabriel students areaccustomed to seeing. But he said that that is not going to happen by layingoff teachers.
“Like all school districts the state budget crisis ishurting us. We struggle with balancing kids’ needs and reducing expenses,” saidSvorkin. San Gabriel has had to layoff 20 teachers already, and possibly moreon the way.
In response, Svorkin, who is actively involved inpolicy making and uniting members of nearby schools, proposed some creativeideas to offset those expenses and shared them with the Tribune.
One idea is to erect a marquee on high schoolproperty that can both announce upcoming school functions like homecoming orfootball games and also generate revenue from advertisers who wish to promotetheir companies on the marquee itself.
Another idea is to request that all school boardmembers stop nonessential travels to events like conferences or meetings thatsometimes take place as far as Washington D.C. Another idea is allowing filmcompanies access to school facilities.
Svorkin is also open to reducing schooladministration in San Gabriel’s central district office to preserve the jobs ofteachers. He also proposes furloughs, unpaid days off for teachers when theynormally would be paid, like holidays as a means of “sharing the pain.”
Finally, there is the idea of a parcel tax, like theone approved of by the cities of San Marino, La Canada and South Pasadena.
In San Marino, voters passed a $795 per parcel taxthat was used to offset the $5 million cut in state funding for the upcomingschool year. In San Marino, around 70 percent of voters assented to themeasure. The move in San Marino is said to generate $4 million, according to anarticle by Mitch Lehman.
Svorkin is the secretary treasurer to a coalitionthat involved 91 school districts called the Los Angeles County School TrusteesAssociation, which even includes community colleges.
If nothing is done, the state will likely cut countlessdollars in education spending and the consensus to stop the bleeding is toincrease class sizes and reduce the staff. Staff pay, according to Svorkin,makes up 85 percent of the budget. Svorkin hopes he can have some influence in protectingjobs and maintain the standard of education in classrooms.
“The San Gabriel community should be activelyinvolved to shrink class size, to step up and offer help, whether byvolunteering or donating,” said Svorkin. Increasing class size, he said, wouldmake a negative significant impact.
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