Feb. 1, 2011 — In the past several years, our local schools have been cutting and tightening the belt to keep up with the state’s education cut.
I have sat in meetings where superintendents and boards have had to present grim news and make some difficult decisions — lay off teachers and increase class sizes, minimize or cut programs and services, etc.
It’s not pleasant and I don’t think it’s going to get better anytime soon despite Governor Jerry Brown saying kindergarten through 12th grade education is exempt from his $12.5 billion cuts.
It sounds nice, but in actuality, administrators, chief business officers and teachers will possibly have to wait until June to see just how grim the education budget will be.
Brown is calling for a special election to extend taxes enacted in February 2009 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. If voters approve the extension, schools might be able to breathe a little sigh of relief, as they will only lose about $19 in Average Daily Attendance, a lot less detrimental than a $350 per ADA loss, which will be the result of the tax extensions not being passed.
While it seems good that Brown is leaving the decision up to the voters, it seems like such a gamble. Many might see this as an opportunity to decrease taxes. On the other hand, others might not care since the taxes are already in place, but until June, education will be in the lurch.
Some people were not happy with Schwarzenegger’s tax increases, especially with state furloughs and a depressed economy.
However, there is a cynical side of me that can’t help but think if the extensions are voted down in June’s election, it will be all too easy for Brown and the legislators to say it was the people who wanted the tax cuts and they are not responsible for the outcry.
The state budget crisis and education cuts have also been compounded by declining enrollment. Some superintendents have said the state cuts wouldn’t effect his or her school so much except that the school is in declining enrollment.
Schools receive money based on average daily attendance and according to Superintendent of Schools Rich DuVarney ADA is still decreasing county wide and there is no reason to believe it will start increasing in the next five years.
I believe school districts have tried to keep cuts away from the students as much as possible, but it hasn’t been easy or always doable.
Last year, Janesville School had to cut its music program and even before Brown’s proposed budget, Lassen Union High School District was possibly looking at no other way but to cut programs this year.
I do not envy cuts school districts will be dealing, with a lot of uncertainty schools will have to be prepared for the worst.
Schools are required to give layoff notices to certificated staff by March 15 and can start rescinding them in May, leaving people with no other choice but to start looking for a new job.
There is no doubt in my mind, the news as far as education goes will be grim in the months to come.
As DuVarney said the easy cuts have been made, and very difficult ones will have to be made now.
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