At a recent Edsource conference, budget cuts and their impact on California schools were leading topics of discussion. Edsource, an independent and impartial agency, holds a yearly conference to provide useful information about California’s public education system. Speakers included new state Superintendent Tom Torlakson.
Gov. Brown’s Proposal
Gov. Jerry Brown made a proposal to ask voters to approve a June ballot measure extending about $12 billion in taxes. Brown states that education has “borne the brunt” of the state’s budget cuts. However, that proposal appears to be dead. Voters would be asked to extend the temporary taxes on income, sales and car taxes so that the $28-billion deficits would be reduced.
New State Superintendent Agrees
Torlakson agrees with Brown, saying that without these tax extensions, there will be no way to avoid increased class size, program cuts and teacher layoffs. The challenge is to get the initiative on the ballot and then to get voters to respond. The focus needs to be on the education of children, rather than political debates. The key terms here are temporary extension of taxes. It is not the implementation of new taxes.
Education officials throughout the state agree that without temporary provisions, the cuts seem inevitable. Such cuts could push hundreds of school districts into financial trouble, affecting class size increases and teacher cuts.
Bottom line: A cut of $5 billion represents about $800 per California K-12 student. In a school of 1,000 students, that totals $800,000, or the approximate cost of 10 teachers.