S.F. Mayor decries proposed school cuts

March 12, 2008 12:19:23 AM PDT
Teachers, administrators and parents took to the steps of City Hall. They're concerned that the Governor's proposed $5 billion dollar cut to education could cost their district hundreds of jobs.

Across the Bay Area we've seen a lot of frustrated parents and teachers vent their anger at school board members.

But, Tuesday was the first time we saw administrators, teachers and parents band together and "publicly" denounce the Governor for these proposed cuts. They were loud and angry at a rally, late on Tuesday afternoon.

San Francisco Unified School District superintendent Carlos Garcia directed his anger at Governor Schwarzenegger.

"This is a reflection of your poor performance to the students of California. Arnold, you are being terminated," said San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia.

The district will lay off 535 teachers and administrators "if" the Governor's proposed $5 billion dollar education cut goes through.

"We should not have to do that Governor Schwarzenegger," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

To counter the district's estimated $40 million dollar deficit, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced a commitment from the Board of Supervisors. It's proposing to allocate $31 million dollars, from the city's rainy day fund to cushion the blow.

"So for those teachers, out there that are worried about there jobs, know that it exists and we're committed to sending it over to the school district," said Newsom.

But Newsom says it's "unlikely" the cuts will be that deep. He says the governor is playing a political game by appearing to be strong on balancing the budget, then negotiating modest cuts in the end.

On Monday, the Governor invited legislators to work it out.

"All we have to do is lock ourselves in the room for three days and not go outside," said Gov. Schwarzenegger on Monday.

"And so he covers his base and then he makes a strong enough case that he tried, so he gets away with it politically. You know, it's an old game," said Newsom.

Game or not, teachers say the looming cuts are affecting their work.

"So it's become a conversation that may replace a conversation about a student. You know, the energy shifts," said fourth grade teacher Stephen Bass.

On Tuesday, the school board voted to send the governor his pink slip certified mail, so he'll have to sign for it.

"Please do not hesitate to contact the voting public. Sincerely, San Francisco Unified School District," said Garcia.

San Francisco voters created the rainy day fund specifically for downturns in economy like this one.

Currently, the rainy day fund has a balance of more than $100 million dollars.