Tool helps parents understand budget crisis impact


There have been numerous rallies and marches throughout the state bringing attention to cuts in education.

But how much of what the cuts really mean is understood or digested by parents? A new online tool lays it out in simple terms. A map lets parents click on their child's school district and information pops up showing how much districts would lose if the tax extensions proposed by the governor do not pass.

The non-profit Parents for Great Education collaborated on the tool. The data came from the California Budget Project.

"For every school district it has the potential cuts and this is based on the legislative analyst's projections if there is no additional revenue in the state budget," Parents for Great Education spokesperson Sarah Butler said.

Oakland Unified School District is facing $33 million in cuts. According to the tool, that means $764 less per child and $22,920 less per 30 student classroom. It also shows the number of teachers who received layoff notices.

"We really rolled up our sleeves and got our hands dirty and realized that we needed to simplify the information," K12 News Network founder and tool co-creator Cynthia Liu said.

Liu is also a mother of an elementary school student. She and three other people worked on the tool for a month, volunteering their time. One of them works for Google, which powers the map.

For school districts it is one more tool to help them deliver the facts.

"Well, California has a very, very complex school finance system, so any help we can get in that regard is truly appreciated; anyway we can make it clearer to parents we want to do that," San Francisco Unified School District spokesperson Nancy Waymack said.

The webpage where the tool can be found also has ways for parents to contact their local lawmakers.

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