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March 5, 2008 > Budget cuts loom for education

Budget cuts loom for education

By Bosky Panjvani

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in the process of proposing a $4.4 billion reduction in education this year as a part of the 2008-09 budget for California's public schools. The impact of this reduction, according to the California State Board Association website (csba.org), could result in shutting down every school for a month, layoffs of more than 107,000 teachers, increase in class sizes, and cutting more than $24,000 per classroom.

School districts with an estimated enrollment of 10,000 students would suffer a reduction of $7.76 million per school leading to elimination of art, music, and career technical educational programs throughout the state; an average reduction of over $800 per student.

Needless to say, anticipated cuts will have a very negative effect on the state's already overburdened education system. It will require $16 billion to achieve just the national average of per pupil spending.

In an open editorial letter, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools, Sheila Jordan, stated that by reducing educational spending, the state's fiscal crisis is not going to be solved. Jordan, speaking to the Tri-City Voice, stated that the proposed budget cuts are very destructive; taxes need to be reinstated to generate more revenue. Ironically, this year was supposed to see more investment and reform in education. In the meantime, school districts are adjusting to the proposed cuts which might be approved by late May. Currently state educators have been notified of a $1 billion reduction. Hayward, for example, anticipates a budget reduction of $18 - 20 million over the next three years. To prepare, the district is establishing a Budget Advisory Task Force to advise the superintendent of possible district reductions.

School superintendents are expressing their anger and disapproval while Jordan traveled to Sacramento in late February to discuss the impact of cuts in education on the schools. Myla Grasso, Public Information Officer of the Pleasanton School District noted that the budget cut is affecting that district. She mentioned that the board is utilizing $2 million from its reserve fund and reducing $2.5 million in programs and personnel including elimination of the teacher training program, elective sections at middle schools, and layoffs of temporary teachers and personnel.

School districts are making an effort to mobilize legislators. Parents can voice their opinion on this issue by writing to the governor and state legislators. They can also contact school districts and work with the education coalition.

For further information visit the California State Board Association Web site at http:// www.csba.org, The California state PTA Web site at http://www.capta.org, or the California Sate Teachers' Association Web site at http://www.cta.org/home.aspx.

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