Local schools facing deep budget cuts

November 8, 2008 1:12:05 PM PST
The Governor's proposed mid-year budget cuts will undoubtedly be painful for California schools. Educators are having a hard time imagining just how kids and classrooms will be affected as they deal with such deep cuts

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 jobs would not be affected because 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. The Governor warnts that schools are facing between $2 and $4 billion in 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 with the San Ramon Valley School District. The rest of the budget goes to pay for basics like electricity, books and materials; In other words, it goes towards 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 at our school site, we have one wonderful para-professional who is bilingual who works in the classroom to give extra help to the kids. With 45 days notice, the district could lay her off. 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?" asks Koehne. With these looming budget cuts parents are expected to once again help bail out their children's schools. "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 3 percent reserve. The Governor may decide to make an exception so that districts can start tapping into their reserves.


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