Sunday, March 13, 2005

More California school troubles

Ventura County Community College District (which I've posted about here) isn't the only school district in the state to be facing severe budget problems right now; in the past few days both the Ojai Unified School District in Ventura County and the Huntington Beach City School District in Orange County have made budget cuts severe enough to spark parent protests.

Both protest participants and district officials have blamed the budget problems, at least partially, on Schwarzenegger's reneging on his promise to fund education to the levels mandated by Proposition 98 (which I've discussed previously here).

The LA Times reported on the Ojai situation:

"More than 500 parents, teachers and students rallied in Ventura on Thursday to protest Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget, accusing him of breaking a promise to keep his hands off education dollars."


"'Even with Proposition 98's funding formula, California ranks among the bottom 10% of states in per-pupil spending', said Charles Weis, Ventura County schools superintendent.

"'We've seen 30 years of erosion in funding for public schools,' Weis said. 'We have now the largest class sizes, the fewest librarians and the fewest administrators. It's time we changed course.'"


"Though happy to see grass-roots opposition emerging, over the past two days he [Timothy Baird, the district's superintendent] had handed out layoff notices to 28 teachers in his district.

"In coming months, he expects to oversee the dismantling of elementary music programs that have been in place for years as well as making additional reductions to support staff.

"District leaders had hoped to stave off a $1.6-million cut to their $24-million budget by passing a parcel tax. But Ojai Valley voters soundly rejected that option at an election earlier in the week, leaving educators with little choice but to proceed with cuts, he said.
The Huntington Beach situation sounds reasonably similar, and was covered in the Orange County Register:

"Hundreds of parents took to the streets today to assail Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's education spending proposals.

"A crowd of protesters estimated by organizers at 300 lined the street in front of Sowers Middle School to oppose the governor's plan to suspend Proposition 98, which requires 40 percent of the state budget be spent on K-14 schools."


"Huntington Beach City School District officials say a current $2 million deficit and associated budget cuts are due in part to a lack of state funding.

"This week, trustees voted to close a school and relocate the district's offices to save $500,000. Layoffs and salary reductions for all district employees are set to be considered in coming weeks.

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