Deadline day for East Bay parcel tax ballots

May 3, 2011 6:02:46 PM PDT
Tuesday was the last day for residents in Union City and Lafayette to send in their ballots on two parcel taxes to help fund education. And across the East Bay, teachers, parents and local officials focused attention on the need for Sacramento to resolve the budget crisis.

People in Richmond driving to work were greeted by teachers holding picket signs calling for an end to the budget cuts to education. Other school districts followed -- Hayward and then San Leandro.

By marching they hope to bring attention to a number of pressing issues such as the dramatic increase of class sizes in the lower grades.

Jon Sherr is with the San Leandro teachers union.

"Our class sizes have gone from 20, they are going to be 32 next year in the K-3. We're going to be eliminating the middle school counselors, elementary PE, and that's the best case scenario," said Sherr.

Teachers support a tax extension to help close the budget gap, something Sacramento has yet to vote on.

"If they are not extended, we are going to have a catastrophe to public education in California," said Sherr.

Oakland Unified is also facing cuts that will affect kids inside and outside the classroom. LaRika Lee is a parent who says any kind of reduction undermines Oakland's future.

"To keep them off the street, to keep them out of gangs, keep them away from guns and things like that. Give them different opportunities in life on what they can do," said Lee.

But Oakland Unified did manage to rescind most of the teacher layoff notices, using one-time monies.

"Including drawing down on the last remaining bit of the state loan. Using the last remaining money from the federal jobs stimulus bill, dipping deeper into our reserves," said Oakland Unified School Spokesman Troy Flint.

Oakland will now have a 2-percent operating reserve. The state requires a minimum of 3-percent.

In order to go down to 2-percent, the Oakland Unified School District first needed the approval of the Alameda County Board of Education and obviously, they got it.

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