A united alliance of Sacramento County educators, parents, and teachers gathered February 29 to illustrate what students throughout Sacramento County could lose from the devastating cuts in the state's budget.
The budget proposes cutting $4.8 billion in education funding statewide including $85 million in Sacramento County alone for the 2008-2009 school year.
"Frankly, these are cuts from which this generation of students might not fully recover," said Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon. "California has the world's 8th largest economy, yet the state ranks 46th out of 50 states when it comes to per student spending. The national average for per pupil spending is nearly $9,000 yet California spends an average of a little over $7,000. It doesn't take a student proficient in math to calculate the difference, or to realize that such a spending difference is unfair and unacceptable."
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell also attended the press conference to highlight to the public the impact of the Governor's proposals to cut education funding.
"I understand we're looking at a tough budget year, but we must continue to improve our education system, because it is central in guaranteeing our state will have the highly qualified workforce it needs for a healthy economy in the years to come," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. "My commitment remains to the students of California and I will continue to make improvements to our system regardless of our fiscal difficulties. At the same time, a conversation about how to secure the long-term investments needed for education is long overdue."
The event was held in the library at Valley High School in the Elk Grove Unified School District, which is one of several local districts contemplating layoffs and program reductions and eliminations in order to deal with budget cuts.
"Right now, Elk Grove Unified is planning for the worst case scenario, but hoping for the best," said Dr. Steven M. Ladd, Superintendent of the Elk Grove Unified School District. "That best can only be achieved if our state leaders decide to invest in our future by investing in our children."
"A reduction of this size will have a negative impact on a whole generation of kids," said Valley High School parent and classroom volunteer La Donna Greene who attended the event.
More than 600 school employees could lose their jobs countywide. Several districts are considering either eliminating or reducing class size reduction which would create larger class sizes. Most districts could be forced to eliminate more bus routes or be forced to increase bus fees that they are already charging to transport students. Programs such as music, art, PE, healthy start, summer school, library services, and instructional support could either be greatly reduced or eliminated. Vice Principals, Counselors and Nurses could be some of the key administrative positions that the districts would be looking to cut.
Joining local educators at the event to help provide a local perspective on proposed education budget cuts: M. Magdalena Carrillo Mejia, Superintendent Sacramento City Unified School District, Steve Enoch, Superintendent, San Juan Unified School District, Pat Godwin, Superintendent, Folsom Cordova Unified School District, Frank Porter, Superintendent, Twin Rivers Unified School District, Dr. Steve M. Farrar, Superintendent, Natomas Unified School District, Karen Schauer, Superintendent, Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, Ralph Friend, Superintendent, Robla School District, and Alan Newell, Superintendent, River Delta Unified School District.