Schools face turmoil this month

 

During the next month, school boards throughout California will
be making impossible choices. Not just difficult, not just
tough
– but impossible.
During the next month, school boards throughout California will be making impossible choices. Not just difficult, not just tough – but impossible.

While the final numbers aren’t clear, Gov. Gray Davis is proposing that $5.4 billion be cut from school budgets in the next 17 months.

Given the magnitude of the number, school boards aren’t talking about cutting “fat” – they must eliminate real services and programs. Some of the choices:

Increasing class sizes – or eliminating music, art and science programs.

Firing janitors – or letting go yard-duty supervisors.

Cutting services for special education students – or axing programs for gifted kids.

These aren’t abstract questions. They are real choices that will hurt children and that will damage school morale. And the decisions must be made by March 15, when districts are legally obligated to notify teachers that they might lose their jobs in the summer.

It will likely be months before legislators and the governor agree on a budget plan.

In the meantime, the decisions of the boards – and the lay-off notices – will create months of uncertainty and turmoil at local schools.

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