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Board Okays 52 Layoffs In Case School Funding Falls

Students, parents and teachers urge alternatives to budget cuts.

 

The San Leandro Unified School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to issue lay off notices that could cut the equivalent of 53 full-time positions to meet a possible $2.54 million budget shortfall if state funding falls next year.

Parents, teachers, students and community members expressed anger and frustration over the cuts that threaten art, music and sports programs.

But board members said they had no choice. They have to plan budgets in advance and right now their budget for next year is based on the assumption that voters will approve tax increases proposed by Governor Jerry Brown.

The new cuts could be rescinded by May 15 if the school district gets assurances of sufficient state funding or if the local teachers union agrees with administrators to lower costs in other ways, board members said.

Some students and community members urged the board to use its reserve funds instead of making the cuts.

But board president Morgan Mack-Rose said that was not feasible.

“We only have a surplus of three percent, which is not even worth a month of salaries,” she said

Emotions ran high

The cuts caused a group of San Leandro students to take drastic action.

“I have attended San Leandro school’s all my life and have participated in many of the programs being cut,” said Veronica, a San Leandro High Senior.  “But tomorrow morning, I will begin my hunger strike,” Veronica said during the meeting.

“I want to show that like our schools, my body can’t survive with just the bare minimum,” she concluded. 

Three other San Leandro High students their plans to participate in the hunger strike.

Jamie Turrintine, current senior and associated body student president was among the dozens of outraged students protesting cuts to sports programs. 

“I got a scholarship to pay for 75 percent of my college tuition for all four years at Holy Names University.  I wouldn’t have gotten that scholarship if we didn’t have sports and other students won’t have the same opportunity either,” Turrintine said.

Parents echoed this outrage during the meeting and many urged the board not to make the cuts.

San Leandro resident Fred Reichert said although he hasn’t been in school for dedcades, he understands the emotion felt by the students who will be directly affected by the cuts. 

“This would be devastating,” Riker said, “just devastating.” 

“Those are the kinds of programs that kept me interested and in school.  I want you to think really long and hard before cutting,” he said.

Frustration has been mounting because of the increasing number of positions axed by the board over several years. 

Some 58 positions have been cut over the past couple of years, increasing many class sizes in San Leandro. Another 20 reductions were recently approved in order to save the district over $1.43 million.

The new possible cuts would come on top of those.

School board members echoed audience sentiment by advising the public to write to Ellen Corbett, San Leandro’s State Senate Representative to ask her to get more funding for local schools.

“The frustration here may be misdirected,” said City Councilmember Jim Prola, who spoke for himself and not on behalf of the city. “Instead of pointing fingers at each other or at the board, the fingers should be pointed at Sacramento.”

(To get San Leandro Patch delivered by email click here.)

Larry Smith March 07, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I have long said that cities already have an venue to organize a statwide petition drive to keep the state from raiding local coffers. That organization is the League of California Cities, who for far too long have done little to fight for the benefit of cities or towns throughout California, but would rather hype classes and seminars and every other form of self-help program for cities rather than actually act as a league. It is kind of like AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, which has long since quit fighting for the rights of seniors and instead has focused on using seniors as a clearing house for every imaginable corporate sales effort that will bring in money to the AARP management team. What is needed is a concentrated effort to stop the state from raiding local funds by spelling out through a Constitutional amendment what the state is and is not entitled. We have it in our power at the local level to change the budgetary landscape if the cities and local governments act together. Isn't it time? htvjgiuiuiu90899
Thomas Clarke March 07, 2012 at 04:42 PM
I'll bet that the parents and school board are really happy with the vows of fasting by students. Real effective leadership by a teacher. Good job Tony.
David March 07, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Perhap a good question for Ellen would be why does she support jerry browns proposed $3 billion increase (+50%) in the "general government" fund, which is a greater increase than the proposed $2.1 billion hike in k-12 funding.
Tim March 07, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Here's what I don't understand... I grew up in NY state. Each year the citizens of each school district would vote up or down on a proposed budget. A school tax bill was separate from the rest of the property tax bill what was paid to the county. The school taxes were paid directly to the district. Why is it that in CA local property tax bills (which include revenues for the school district) are paid to the state? And then we have to rely on the state to throw at us what they see fit? This seems so ass backwards to me.
David March 07, 2012 at 06:31 PM
That goes back to Prop 13. the california supreme court ruled that it was inequitable to rely only on local prop tax revenues and basically it ended up where the money goes to sacramento and then gets reapportioned.
Tim March 07, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Clearly this has to change. Each district should be allowed to stand on its own and not rely on redistribution from the state.
Tom Abate (Editor) March 07, 2012 at 07:02 PM
There is no perfect solution. If each district stands entirely on its own Palo Alto and Pleasanton would stand a whole lot higher than San Leandro and Oakland. Right now San Leandro has to deal with the hand it's been dealt.
Tim March 07, 2012 at 07:17 PM
You know, I hear that argument but in NY this is exactly how they do it and Albany kicks in to help the lesser funded, poorer districts. I would feel better knowing the tax money I pay for the schools went directly to the schools and not to the state bureaucracy. Its funny, I went to elementary school in a poorer, lower income town and had a better experience there then the higher income town where I went to HS. Money is important, of course. But, MORE money doesn't necessarily translate into a better school system. It's how that district is managed that counts.
Gloria Amaral March 07, 2012 at 08:11 PM
So the money that was raised from Measure B was used to build the beautiful new Arts/Media Center and with the proposed cuts we will now not have teachers to run this center? Or teacher the media classes? Incredible!
Mike Katz-Lacabe March 07, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Gloria, the School District will still have staff to run the Arts Education Center and to teach media classes at the High School.
Craig Williams March 08, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Tom , I think the politicians should jump on the card table and start talking about the cheatin' commercial property tax scam that costs cities and schools as much as $8 billion a year. They should be screaming "its morally wrong , its morally wrong." Where towns don't have high residential taxes , they frequently have industry. In a less corrupt world with the pre Prop 13 way of property taxation Richmond would have more school funding than most cities. We also don't have split role where industry and commercial property pay a higher rate than homeowners, instead of $10 per $1000 , $20 and $25 . Their the schools are much better funded and also have much lower sales taxes, often between 5 and 6 percent. But I guess we have nicer weather.
Tim March 08, 2012 at 02:05 AM
THERE, the schools are much better funded... I guess you didn't attend one of those "well funded schools".
Tony Farley March 08, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Thanks Thomas! I appreciate the support and the credit, but my students are fasting for nonviolence this month. The students spoken about in this article are not my students. I would be proud if they were though. Mostly proud that they were at a Board Meeting caring about what was going on with their schools. I'm sure their parents are equally proud of them.
Craig Williams March 08, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Typo ,Timmy drop the "the" smart ass . How much do they spend per student .
Rob Rich March 08, 2012 at 05:11 AM
I'm all for reforming Prop 13.
David March 08, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Well, the city of Chicago has far more industry, commerce, and even higher sales taxes. Its property tax rate is also higher. Schools? Well, most of them are worse than here. You continue to make the error that more $$= better schools, despite your OWN example of German schools doing better, despite spending far less $$ per pupil. But facts interfere with your "corporations are raping us" mindset and so you studiously ignore them, even when you bring them up.
Larry Smith March 08, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Government bureaucrats have us exactly where they want us: calling each other names, insulting each others' intelligence and fighting the war on too many fronts. Sadly, none of the warriors knows exactly what the war is about, and that is exactly where we will be a day from now, a month from now, and even five years from now. No one seems to address the real problem: accountability. We have no accountability because we have no term limits. We have no term limits because we have failed to get our elected officials to pass a legislative amendment to banish lobbyists who pay the elected representatives with favors the rest of us can only dream. Barring their action (or inaction as we have witnessed over the past several years), we must initiate such change ourselves via the initiative process. We cannot continue to allow the foxes the run of the chicken coop, unless of course, we want more of the same.
Craig Williams March 08, 2012 at 06:26 PM
The schools in Massachusettes are rated the best in the country. They have the highest union rate , spend much more per student than California , have split role or what they call Classification where industry and commercial properties pay 2.5 an 2 times what residents pay in property taxes and pay around 6 percent sales taxes. Chicago also has a very high poverty rate and the relationship between poverty and school performance is always the key factor in school performance.
Tom Abate (Editor) March 08, 2012 at 07:03 PM
In interrupt this discussion for an important announcement: some San Leandro High students have gone from talk to non-violent action on this issue: http://sanleandro.patch.com/articles/patch-blogger-two-other-students-fast-to-oppose-school-budget-cuts
David March 08, 2012 at 09:06 PM
The overall tax burden in Massachusetts is lower than in California. Top income tax rate: 5.3%, and that 6% sales tax (11th overall, compared to 6th overall for California). Massachusetts spends about $1500 more per pupil (~12% on the true per pupil cost as shown in the California state budget documents). Chicago may have a high poverty rate (despite Cook County having the second highest number of millionaires in the USA), but, as demonstrated repeatedly, more spending does not equal better outcomes. Again, this is demonstrated by your own numbers (Germany etc). Heck, Utah spends the least per pupil, and their outcomes exceed California's (never mind Texas, a much more demographically similar state). You continue to confuse all of these things in your quest to massively raise taxes. It's obviously your primary goal, so just state it up front. It doesn't matter if the schools actually get better, you're just annoyed that rich people exist.
Craig Williams March 08, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Industry fought split role in Massachusetts tooth and nail. We would probably have it in California if say the Bay Area was a state unto itself. I'm most interested in the curriculum which if we shifted to more apprenticeships would be a significant improvement in the quality of education , in my opinion. We don't move in this direction because it would increase domestic corporate commitments.As far as taxing the rich go , I would favor a investment / consumption tax where the rich could pay a higher tax for expanding their 30,000 sq.ft. home to 40,000 or not pay the consumption tax if they invested that money into the economy. Sometimes its called the USA tax.
Tom Abate (Editor) March 08, 2012 at 09:36 PM
One other thing. A school librarian asked me to add this: Dear Mr. Abate, Thank you for covering the story about the recent school cuts, however, one piece of information is missing. The Board also voted to cut all secondary librarians and cut the library aides by 50%. This will CLOSE ALL SCHOOL LIBRARIES. I know this because I am the librarian at the high school. Please include this vital information in any further stories. I would appreciate it. Your truly, Roxanne Ansolabehere
Tim March 08, 2012 at 09:56 PM
So there you have it...from the mouth of a single high school librarian, without independent verification from the school district, all school libraries will be closed.
Tim March 08, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Wow, so the MA schools are rated best in the country? They must have had a good governor there... perhaps one that would make a good President as well...
Larry Smith March 09, 2012 at 07:15 AM
Down with the administrative tyrants!

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