Six days after the California Department of Education turned down an appeal by the LAUSD to restore funding for after-school programs, some 50 parents, children and other community members gathered Friday outside to oppose the District’s own $7.5-million cut to the Beyond the Bell initiative, which could “dump 42,000 children onto the city streets and into latchkey status,” in the words of Board Member Bennett Kayser.
Kayser presided over the meeting, the second in eight days at Dahlia Heights, called on the issue of cuts to after-school programs. Featured speakers ranged from activists and parents to politicians and a school policeman. Much of what was said wasn’t new, but some of the speakers certainly conveyed the importance of ensuring that thousands of school kids not be forced off campuses at 3 p.m. and left to loiter in the streets until their parents pick them up.
Dahlia Heights is among 566 elementary and middle schools that will lose the “open-playground” Youth Services Program starting in the new school year unless the LAUSD Board agrees to restore funding. (Four out of seven board members must vote against the cuts for them to be averted.) It would be the first time since 1915 that the District will offer no after-school options to families in hundreds of schools.