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Schools taking deep cutbacks

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My students have learned this year about Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Cesar Chavez, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — people who made a difference in the world because they stood up for what is right. This month I have to show them by example that every one of us can be that kind of hero. California is in a state of emergency. Budget cuts in the last three years have hit K-12 education harder than any other category of spending, reducing our classroom resources by about $1,000 per pupil and resulting in a shorter school year for our district. Budget cut days save the district money at the expense of employees and students, but we could find no good alternative. To date, the legislature has not acted to approve a budget for the coming year. Because of decreased tax revenue resulting from the recession and some large corporate tax breaks approved last year, the state anticipates a $25 billion shortfall for 2011-2012. Gov. (Jerry) Brown has proposed closing the budget gap with a balance of additional cuts and revenue increases — about $12.5 billion each. The increased revenue would come from extending current tax levels and deferring some of the new corporate tax breaks. This budget would largely spare schools any further cuts. But if the legislature will not approve extending current tax rates, the governor will have to propose an all-cuts budget, which would most likely cost our school an additional $600 per pupil. The only ways to implement cuts of that size are to increase class size, cut programs, shorten the school year and lay off teachers. George Sheridan, Garden Valley