Future of CA schools looking grim

March 3, 2008 9:41:22 AM PST
The future of California school programs and the teachers who run them is looking grimmer every day. Vallejo has recently announced that they are sending out 193 layoff notices to teachers and staff in that district.

All over California, teachers are getting layoff notices and districts all over the state are trying to project how to deal with $4 billion dollars less in the state education budget.

"I just got my notice last week that there was no longer a position for me so I am concerned," says Ellen Whatmore, teacher.

Ellen Whatmore teaches at Pioneer Valley high School in Santa Maria County. She started just last year.

"I'm concerned for my students because they need consistency. It's just a shame for them," says Whatmore.

Whatmore was at the California Teacher's Conference in Santa Clara. The talk there among the more than 400 teachers from all over the state is centered on layoffs and the Governors budget cuts.

"California wide so far 5,000 notices have gone out. Notices are anticipated to go higher than that," says Dennis Kelly, United Educators Of San Francisco.

Dennis Kelly represents the United Educators of San Francisco with about 6000 members.

"Right now, lay off letters are going out in San Francisco, says Kelly.

Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing $400 million dollars in education cuts this fiscal year and $4 billion in cuts for next. Vallejo and Pittsburg school districts have announced that layoffs are necessary in order to deal with the proposed cuts. Vallejo has sent out notices to 193 teachers and staff.

"That creates a tremendous scar on the way people feel about the job. They feel all of a sudden that what they doing is totally unappreciated," says Kelly.

Dennis Kelly says the layoffs will psychologically affect most of the 400,000 teachers in California, but it may be especially damaging to those teachers just starting out.

"I think we are losing the best and the brightest. They look at teaching and they don't want to go into teaching," Carla Shick, teacher.

Many teachers blame school district board members. San Jose Unified School District Board President Pat Foley says the reality is that less money means something has to go.

"We've already told our schools you cant order paper supplies, can't order pencils. You're going to have to figure that out," says Foley.

Foley says her district's reserve funds may hold off any severe cuts.

"Our goal is to keep any budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible."

Foley says no one yet knows how deep these cuts will actually be.