By Christopher J. Steinhauser
Superintendent of Schools
Let’s face it. It’s been a tough year. The state budget meltdown has impacted public schools throughout California, resulting in layoff notices, furlough days and other austerity measures. Our own schools have not been immune to the crisis.
Amazingly, our students continue to thrive. With strong support from parents and others in our community, our employees have remained focused on our vital mission of supporting the personal and intellectual success of every student, every day.
We learned this week that our graduating high school seniors have earned well over $51 million in scholarships, which is a new record and speaks to our schools’ ability to put children first, even during the most challenging of circumstances. We’ve seen so many other victories for our students and schools this year, including a long list of state and national honors.
I recognize that such success has not come without sacrifice. After years of budget cuts and hiring freezes, our employees are working harder, with fewer resources, to provide our students the outstanding education they deserve. Employees, parents and business leaders are reaching into their own pockets, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support school programs that they hold dear.
Our teachers, support staff and administrators continue to make significant sacrifices, as evidenced by the 93 percent of teachers who recently approved a new contract that includes five unpaid furlough days next school year. This agreement will help save 200 teaching jobs, and I deeply appreciate the efforts of all who are willing to pitch in and help our schools through these difficult times.
I know that the summer, normally a time of well-deserved rest and renewal for our hardworking teachers and other employees, instead brings uncertainty for many people in our schools this year, especially for employees who are unsure about their employment status for next school year. Please be assured that the leadership of this school district will continue working throughout the summer to mitigate state budget cuts so that we can restore as many jobs as possible. We will keep you posted on our progress at www.lbschools.net.
Meanwhile, I sincerely thank our employees, parents and community partners for persevering and succeeding in the face of significant obstacles. You continue to make the Long Beach Unified School District one of the most respected school systems in the nation. More importantly, you are making a profound and positive impact on the lives of thousands of children.