The early special election results are in. This means the governor will call for an additional $5 billion in cuts to public education — and that our highly polarized state Legislature will once again have to agree on a way to close a deficit now estimated by Schwarzenegger to be $21.3 billion.
How is this uncertainty affecting your school? What programs are taking a hit?
Here’s what Jack O’Connell, our state superintendent of public instruction had to say about the potential impact of this election:
…“This, however, is a starting point for budget negotiations. We must find a budget solution that protects our top priority: our students, who are the future of our state.
“If we don’t, without question, the impact of these cuts will be immediate. Class sizes will increase. Fewer of the 27,886 teachers who received pink slips will be retained, and many districts will strongly consider using a second window for issuing even more layoff notices to teachers. The ratio of students to school counselors, school nurses, and librarians will widen further. Art, music, and career technical education programs will be slashed to a bare-bones minimum, if they even survive.
“Cuts of this magnitude would seriously threaten to stop the rise in student achievement we’ve seen over the last seven years, and they will undoubtedly hinder the work we’ve been doing to close California’s persistent achievement gap.
“I realize there are tough decisions ahead for the Governor and the Legislature, but students cannot be the scapegoat for California’s fiscal mess. Education is the key to our state’s long-term fiscal health. Given the economic crisis we face and the gridlock we continually face in Sacramento, we must consider new ideas and be open to new ways of thinking. I have called for a majority vote budget, which will end budget standoffs and increase accountability for budget decisions. I also support SCA 6 by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), which will make it easier for local communities to pass parcel taxes for local schools. I urge policymakers to consider these and any other ideas and proposals put on the table so that out of crisis we can make needed changes to our broken budgeting system. The future of our students and of California now hangs in the balance.”