About 500 teachers, parents and students marched on a Montebello Unified School District board meeting last week to protest budget cuts in the financially troubled district. The $19 million in cuts include all elementary school librarians and 20% of district nurses. The board has approved laying off about 200 employees, most of them teachers.
Student drummers led the marchers from a rally at Montebello Intermediate School to district headquarters seven blocks away, where a board meeting was in progress. More than 100 demonstrators crowded into the small meeting room singing "where have all the monies gone."
Speakers blamed the budget shortfall on mismanagement. The district outspent its revenue by as much as $28.4 million, according to state auditors. "We say no to subsidizing (the board's) mistakes," said Kathy Klein, president-elect of the Montebello Teachers Assn. Board members said the crisis resulted from decreased state funding and unexpected increases in operating costs. District officials also have been unwilling to part with costly educational programs and to offer less competitive teachers' salaries, they said.