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Inglewood Educators Struggle With Loss of $750,000 in State Aid

July 20, 1986|MICHELE L. NORRIS | Times Staff Writer

INGLEWOOD — School officials are trying to figure out how to live with a $750,000 cut in state aid without harming academic programs.

Gov. George Deukmejian last month vetoed $86 million in the 1986-87 budget for Urban Impact Aid, which has been provided to districts with high percentages of welfare-dependant or transient families, and bilingual students.

About 35% of the Inglewood district's approximately 16,000 students are bilingual, and about 25% are from families that receive welfare.

Wide Range of Programs

The district uses the money to pay for a wide range of programs, including graffiti control, bilingual studies and campus security. Without the aid, officials will have to scale back those programs--despite an expected 15% jump in enrollment in the next two years.

Inglewood is one of 19 districts throughout the state that will lose between $250,000 and $38 million because of Deukmejian's veto. Administrators from the 19 districts have joined together to try to persuade lawmakers to restore money for the program.

"Normally district officials have the opportunity to travel to Sacramento and testify to support programs in jeopardy," said Inglewood Supt. Rex Fortune. "This came as a total surprise. Our district is growing at a tremendous rate. We can't afford to lose money at a time like this. We don't even have reserves to cover the loss."

That alternative is available to the Los Angeles Unified School District, the only other district in the South Bay that had received money from the program.

Although Deukmejian vetoed the allocation June 25, he said he supports the program and would restore it--along with 12 other programs--if the Legislature sends him a bill authorizing the state to pay for those programs with a $300-million surplus in the Public Employees Retirement System.

Resisted Move

Some lawmakers, under pressure from state employees, have resisted that move.

The Legislature reconvenes Aug. 11, leaving little time for lawmakers to restore the aid before the Aug. 31 deadline for school districts to approve spending plans for the coming school year.

"It is still possible for the Legislature and the governor to reach some sort of accord, but we have to assume that the loss of this program is something we are going to have to live with," Fortune said.

The district may have to lay off some instructional aides and non-union staff members such as security guards and hall monitors, officials said. The loss might also prevent officials from increasing the district's computer-literacy and vandalism-control programs.

Assemblyman Curtis Tucker (D-Inglewood) and Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) have both written letters to Deukmejian on behalf of the district, as have about 1,000 Inglewood students at the behest of their teachers.

Both legislators say they could support use of the retirement-fund surplus to continue the program.

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