FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Los Angeles Unified School District classified employees, including Lincoln High School cafeteria worker Eladia Vazquez, want to make sure State Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Larry Aceves understands the importance of their contribution to good public schools. The best way was to let him roll up his sleeves and see firsthand, working a shift with Eladia preparing food, washing dishes, and sweeping and mopping the lunchrooms.
“When I started here 25 years ago, there were 28 cafeteria employees and most of the food was prepared here from scratch. The kids loved our food—especially the enchiladas. I remember we used to make a homemade turkey dinner around the holidays, baking whole turkeys in the oven,” remembers Eladia. Today, over years and years of budget cuts, there are only 12 mostly part-time workers and the food is primarily pre-packaged and reheated. Eladia and her co-workers are giving Mr. Aceves a chance to experience what it’s like trying to prepare food and get as many kids through the long lunch lines as possible. Currently, there’s only enough staff and time to serve about half the school.
The State Superintendent makes decisions about the public school system, including cleanliness, campus safety, and the quality of school meals. Eladia and other District food service staff are asking candidates for State Superintendent to use their campaign platforms to advocate for better education funding, including funding for good school food that children need to be successful—and the good jobs necessary to provide that food. Massive state budget cuts have forced the Los Angeles Unified School District to eliminate hundreds of food service positions this school year. The Governor’s recent budget proposal cuts nearly $2.5 billion more from our schools, which could force further District cuts.
“As a superintendent, I worked hand-in-hand with employees to ensure that our schools were running efficiently and our students were provided the best opportunities possible,” says Larry Aceves, a retired school superintendent. “I am glad to have the opportunity to participate in a program like ‘Walk a Day in My Shoes,’ and to get back in the trenches and interact with the people who provide our students with such a wonderful learning environment. This is a great experience.”
This is part of a series of “Walk a Day in My Shoes” events inviting all the leading State Superintendent candidates to learn firsthand the impact of budget cuts on student services and classified employees. Candidates must part participate in a “Walk a Day in My Shoes” event to be considered for endorsement by workers represented by SEIU.
SEIU Local 99 is a union of more than 43,000 dedicated education workers who guide our children from preschool and kindergarten, through grade school, high school, and at community colleges. We are teachers, paraeducators, custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, first responders, and others working in schools, colleges, and administrative offices throughout Southern California. We are part of SEIU International, the fastest-growing union in North America with 2.1 million members.