This week, California teachers, parents and children gathered to protest against state budget cuts to K-12 education that have totaled a whopping $20 billion over the last three years and affected schools statewide. Termed the “State of Emergency,” this grassroots movement has resulted in arrests in Sacramento and spurred lively gatherings, such as the one Friday morning in front of Culver City Middle School.
Many local parents and teachers are hoping that will keep pushing to get tax hike extensions on the ballot. They believe that extending a quarter-percentage point increase in personal income tax rates that expired at the end of 2010 and maintaining a 1 percentage point boost in the sales tax past its June expiration could assist in closing the $26.6 billion California budget deficit. Republican lawmakers recently blocked the governor’s wish to put the tax measure on the June ballot. Without the extensions, it is likely that K-12 education will face additional budget cuts.
In addition, Culver City residents were passing out fliers Friday morning in support of AB 1130, which would tax California's highest income earners—those making more than $500,000 a year—an additional 1 percent. This would bring in an additional $2.5 billion in annual revenue to the state.
On the local level, decreases in the state’s per-student funding and a host of other financial concerns have forced the Culver City Unified School District to compose a budget cut list that features the loss of 27 employees and the reduction of several positions from 12 to 11 months for the 2011-12 year. These cuts, which would save the district $828,572 a year, represent only a piece of the $3 million reduction that Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Ali Delawalla is targeting; the other piece of the pie is composed of 19.2 teacher pink slips, totaling $1,248,000 in savings per year.
At a recent board of education meeting in Culver City, only $267,000 worth of the $828,572 in cuts have been made official, though all pink slips had been passed out as of the March 15 preliminary notification deadline.
Several of the proposed cuts have been tabled to allow further discussion, per the Board of Education.
Click on the video to hear from the city’s children and teachers on state budget cuts to education.