More painful school cuts and tough answers

The budget cuts are coming like a fast and furious freight train
aimed at the Gilroy Unified School District’s bottom line.
The budget cuts are coming like a fast and furious freight train aimed at the Gilroy Unified School District’s bottom line. “Easy” solutions are long gone, and it’s going to get even more complex starting now.

Trustees are likely going to have to find another $5 million or so and as Trustee Rhoda Bress outlines in her letter to the editor below, the options are serious – closing a school, ending bus service, cutting athletics.

All the answers are certainly not clear, but perhaps some creative solutions are out there that could at least ease the pain.

In the transportation arena, perhaps it’s time to charge for bus service. The school district in Elk Grove has been doing it for years. It’s $520 annually for three children. Or perhaps a partnership with the Valley Transportation Authority – all those buses that run around empty in Gilroy – can be enlisted for limited service. With the price of fuel creeping ever higher, a partnership makes more and more sense.

GUSD is working on the Safe Routes to Schools program, and getting students to walk, with or without parents, is also key to any transportation reductions. It would also help with the easing the clogged traffic conditions around most of our schools at drop-off and pick-up times.

In another arena, the city of Gilroy has contracted out for landscape maintenance services for years. There are numerous city parks either adjacent to or very near schools, why not look seriously into that option?

This is really no time to be concerned about union job issues if that’s a stumbling block. It’s time to be concerned about protecting the classroom as much as possible and sacrificing in other areas.

Perhaps the city recreation department could assist in before- and after-school programs … perhaps a parcel tax could be passed. But, honestly, that’s got a snowball’s chance in the devil’s kitchen unless residents witness some creative solutions and cuts that are made with integrity.

Teachers should consider giving up step-and-column increases for two years as well. When the pain is shared, it’s more evident to the community and less difficult for all.

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