More cuts for California schools

November 7, 2008 7:40:24 PM PST
The Governor's proposed mid-year budget cuts will certainly be painful for California schools. Educators are having a hard time imagining just how they're going to deal with cuts so deep.

Any mid-year cuts to education would be felt as early as January. School districts would likely impose a spending and hiring freeze.

Teachers' salaries and their jobs would not be affected. You see, teachers like most employees are under contract through June. Most of a district's budget, anywhere from 85 to 90 percent or more is dedicated to paying people.

So what's left? The governor warns schools face between $2 and $4 billion worth of cuts.

"Basically the size of the cuts that we are looking at, that is being proposed. I can't even imagine where we would start," said Terry Koehne from the San Ramon Valley School District.

The rest of the budget goes to pay for the basics like electricity, books, materials -- in other works keeping the doors open.

School districts may decide to cut supplemental programs, hire less substitute teachers, or in some cases lay off counselors.

"For example our school site has one wonderful para-professional who is bilingual who works in the classroom to give extra help to the kids. With 45-days notices, the district could lay her of, I am very worried about that," said teacher Lita Blanc.

School districts have already made drastic cuts this year.

"Do you shorten the school year, despite the fact that you are mandated to go 180 days by the state," said Koehne.

With these looming budget cuts, parents are expected to, again, supplemental their child's education.

"I realize everyone is having to make sacrifices. The reality is education is what is going to see us out of this mess," said parent Cynthia Hogan.

By law, school districts must carry a three percent reserve. The Governor may decide to make an exception so that districts can begin tapping into their reserves.


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