Districts aren't cheering state budget

February 19, 2009 5:55:07 PM PST
School districts are finding little to cheer about in the state budget. Nothing in fact, they're out billions. Classroom cuts are almost certain and schools are now bracing for layoffs.

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The overall education budget is being cut by more than 10 percent. Teachers don't like it and neither does the state schools chief.

"In the final analysis, cuts are in the neighborhood of $7 to $7.5 billion. That's going to be painful," says Jack O'Connell, the California superintendent of public instruction.

O'Connell predicts the new state budget will take California from being 47th in per-pupil-spending down to 49th or even 50th. San Jose Unified School District anticipates having to cut $16.5 million from next year's budget.

"It's very difficult when you're coming to work every day and really doing your best for students," says Aine Garcia, a fifth grade teacher.

At San Jose's Gardner Academy, about 70-percent of the students are English learners.

Budget cuts mean critical resources used to bring up test scores here are in jeopardy.

The principal says there will be layoffs including the math coach and possibly the reading intervention teacher.

"We have interventions during the day, after school, on Saturday and in the summer. All of those will have to be cut with those budget cuts from the state right now," says Janis Hubbs, the Gardner Academy principal.

California schools will benefit from federal stimulus money. The state expects $7 billion over two years will be funneled to education, but it will be one-time money.

"While it's going to help, it's a lifeline. It's going to provide us with a softer landing. It's not the panacea that some people have said," says O'Connell.

And in what's become an annual ritual, school districts across the Bay Area will send out layoff notices next month and then figure out how to rescind as many as they can.

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