Hundreds rally over proposed child care cuts

August 6, 2010 12:05:55 AM PDT
With no state budget in sight, the governor is talking about cuts to education. In Berkeley on Thursday, hundreds rallied against the proposal since it could result in preschool and afterschool programs being cut.

A familiar rallying cry filled the Berkeley Unified School District's courtyard. Many there are struggling.

Right now, there is no state budget and the cuts to pre-kindergarten and afterschool programs the governor is proposing are sending panic through Bay Area school districts.

"Our total budget for those programs is about $5 million and this cut is over $3.5 million. It leaves us desperate frankly," said district supervisor Bill Huyett.

Berkeley, Hayward, Oakland are all trying to save child care. Seven Oakland child care centers were slated to close last month, but got a last minute reprieve. Those centers and all of the ones within Berkeley Unified are now due to shut down on August 31.

"We're low income. I got hit with furloughs last year at U.C. Berkeley and now to have the child care go, it would be hard for us to survive," said parent Michelle Alvarez.

"Not only myself but all of my teaching staff could all lose their jobs," said afterschool program supervisor Zach Pless.

The Berkeley closures would mean 100 layoffs and 650 fewer children in school.

"I don't want to stay home. I want to go learn something," said Tajah Walker, 8 years old.

Parents wrote letters to the governor, hoping to change his mind. However, for Paulette Butler, the impact is devastating. She's a teacher and her daughter is in the afterschool program.

"I won't have a summer job, I won't have a place to go to work at, and then I won't have a child care for my daughter during the year," said Butler. "It's really bad, we really need to get this budget passed."

The budget conference committee voted late Wednesday night to save child care. Their recommendations could go before the state assembly as early as next week.


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