Gov. proposes to cut school year

January 5, 2009 6:09:41 PM PST
The governor's plan to shorten the school year by a week to save some money-- is mostly getting failing grades. The California Teacher's Association calls it potentially catastrophic.

Educators and parents say it's just another low blow directed at California schoolchildren.

The latest budget proposal from Governor Schwarzenegger is to reduce the 2009-10 school year by one week. The estimated savings is $1.1. billion.

Parent Nell Nunley isn't buying it.

"The kids are our precious, precious commodity of our futures and if anything, I believe they should be in school a little bit longer," said Nunley.

Under the governor's plan, cost reductions would come in the areas of utilities, student transportation, custodial and maintenance, cafeteria operations and support staff.

When it comes to teacher salaries, the Governor's proposal leaves it up to individual school districts to try to negotiate some kind of savings with their unions.

"It's probably a can of worms," said Terry Koehne from San Ramon Valley Unified School District. "If you're putting it on school districts to say, 'Okay, here you go, we're going to cut five days, but leave it up to you negotiate with your bargaining units.' Okay?"

At San Ramon Valley Unified, five fewer days from the current 180 day schedule would mean a loss of $4.2 million in average daily attendance revenue.

That's about two percent of the district's total budget.

"If we cut five days out, I can tell you for example, in the 5th grade, that we're going to take out photosynthesis in science," said Baldwin Elementary Principal Darlene Hale.

Class time would be reduced, but state-mandated standards and testing requirements would remain the same -- leaving it up to teachers and students to make up any lost material.