Politicians do not spend time at our schools. They don’t see the disaster looming for our kids if the state budget becomes another “cuts only” scenario. If ever there was a time to communicate with Sen. Sam Blakeslee and Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, this is it.
Over the past three years, our local school districts have had to make painful decisions and cuts that ultimately affect the future of our kids. For example, Atascadero Unified School District has absorbed cuts totaling 20 percent of its budget and is left with 19 percent fewer teachers, no maintenance budget, between five and 15 furlough days for every employee and class sizes of 30-plus from kindergarten through high school. Further cuts will be a death sentence for multiple programs and services.
The governor’s proposed budget includes extending current temporary taxes that would provide $12 billion in additional revenue to the state. This revenue, along with $12.5 billion in cuts, would balance the state’s budget.
With the tax extension, the governor’s plan would hold funding for K-12 schools at a nearly flat level.
However, if the tax extension is not approved, the state will need to make $24.5 billion in cuts alone and this will include another hit to our schools of between $800 and $900 per student. To put these monstrous cuts into perspective, California’s State Treasurer Bill Lockyear said that not passing this tax extension would be the equivalent of closing schools six weeks early.
We need to call our legislators and tell them to do the right thing Monday by voting “yes” to allow the citizens of California the opportunity to vote on the proposed tax extension.
The legislators’ “yes” vote will put this issue on our June ballot so that we, the taxpayers, can make the final decision. No one likes taxes, but the picture painted for education without this extension looks more than bleak.
You can contact Sen. Sam Blakes-lee at 549-3784 and Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian at 549-3381.
Tami Gunther is an Atascadero Unified School District trustee.