California schools in crisis

March 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Three Bay Area school boards met on Thursday to make tough decisions about which jobs and programs to cut to make-up for billions of dollars in lost state funding.

Already: hundreds of teachers and other school workers have been warned they could lose their jobs.

Ninety-five pink slips have gone out in Novato, 206 in Vallejo, 86 in Pittsburg, 72 in alameda and in San Francisco, we learned that 535 teachers and school staff will get layoff warning notices.

On Thursday, The Dublin School Board met for four and a half hours and voted to approve a plan to cut about $2.5 million dollars from the budget, send layoff notices to five teachers and also begin plans to shut down an elementary school.

Some painful decisions in a rough economy.

Parents and teaches in Dublin got a hard lesson in trickling down economics; how big-times state budget problems are going to be making their lives more difficult.

"When they are in the trenches with their kids, they belong there and I appreciate them and I want them to stay there. And I don't agree with anything that causes a teacher to get laid off, I think there are other things that we can do," said Dublin parent Debbie Krommenhock.

Teacher and students throughout the Bay Area would feel the brunt of more than $4 billion dollars in budget cuts proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

The California Teachers Association just released an estimate that at least 7,100 teachers statewide are getting notices that they could be laid off.

"They are concerned. We have several new teachers are our school and they feel as though they are going to get letters, and they will be without a job," said San Francisco teacher Earl Lene DeSantiago.

The San Francisco Unified School District has plans to send layoff notices to 535 teachers. The union now says it's hearing that number will be closer to 1,000.

"We've heard that from folks in the central office, but we also know from experience that it's the way it's had to be done in the past," said Dennis Kelly from United Educators of San Francisco.

A spokesperson for the school district is sticking by the 535 number.

Earlier in the day State Senators Don Perata and Carole Midgen called for a temporary sales tax increase as part of a way to avoid education cuts.

"And we Democrats, the last breath we breathe, we won't allow schools to be cut. So you better understand," said State Senator Carole Midgen (D) San Rafael.

Avoiding school cuts has become a hot topic for school board members and superintendents from across the state; who were meeting at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley.

"It's going to go into effect and we are here come July 1st with a budget approved by the legislature and signed by the governor that cuts four to $5 billion dollars in education. We are going to see a different type of education in September. It is not going to be good for kids," said Los Angeles County Schools supervisor Darline Robles.

Robles favors reinstating the vehicle license fee as a way of closing the gap. Of course, the Governor has opposed any taxes increases.

The notices have to go out by March 15th and it is mostly to teachers with lower seniority. Getting a letter doesn't automatically mean that the teacher will be laid off, but over the next few weeks, a lot of teachers will be worrying if they are on the list.


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