East Bay school district opposes cuts

March 17, 2008 1:29:53 PM PDT
An East Bay school district becomes the latest battle ground in the war over governor Schwarzenegger's education cuts.

Concord teachers who have been pinks-slipped, parents and senate Democrats fighting the proposed cuts joined together on Monday morning to warn of potentially devastating effects on schools across the state.

The Mount Diablo Unified School District includes six high schools, 10 middle schools and 30 elementary schools.

At Glenbrook Middle School, they are looking at cutting four full-time teachers and possibly three teaching assistants. The last hired would be the first to go.

Eighth grade teachers Emily Naretto and Nancy Stevens received pink slips on Friday. They won't know until May whether they'll have a job in the fall

"It is very frustrating because it hurts the kids so much and particularly I'm thinking of my remedial reading classes. I have students three or four years behind, we need small class sizes," said eight grade teacher Nancy Stevens.

As Contra Costa County's largest school district, Mount Diablo Unified must cut next year's budget by $14 million dollars. The board managed to save arts and sports programs but have cut everything from administration to special education, librarians to landscaping.

On Monday morning, teachers, parents and politicians met at Glenbrook Middle School to rally the governor and state legislators for more money. Senator Tom Torlakson supports closing tax loopholes.

"If you buy a luxury yacht or airplane, there's a loophole that you don't have to pay sales tax. Well, we should close that loophole," said State Senator Tom Torlakson (D) Antioch.

"I don't always think taxes need to increase. I think we need to look for example, my students, created a petition because they're so frustrated schools are getting cuts but prison budgets aren't getting cut," said eight grade teacher Emily Naretto.

While teachers seek a short term solution to save their jobs, Superintendent Gary McHenry says the state needs to dedicate funds solely to education.

"The idea is that they come up with a mechanism where education is almost guaranteed a certain amount of money regardless of what's happening in the economy," said Mount Diablo Superintendent Gary McHenry.

Superintendent McHenry says district wide 86 positions need to be cut, but he doesn't think it will get to that. On average, 60 teachers retire every year.