Gilroy teachers to protest budget cuts this week

Gilroy teachers to protest budget cuts this week

Gilroy Unified School District teachers and staff are taking to
the streets to protest an

all-cuts

state budget that could drain more than $10 million from Garlic
City schools if passed. Full article
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Teachers and school staff in the Garlic City will make their voices heard, even it means publicizing their purpose through boisterous gatherings and shouting it from street corners.

The Gilroy Unified School District will immerse itself in the California School Board Association’s May 9-13 Week of Action, a focus on the statewide budget filled with protests against an “all-cuts” plan that could drain more than $10 million from Gilroy schools if passed.

Public outreach during the Week of Action is happening in conjunction with Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget, which is scheduled to be released some time this week.

“We are drowning,” said GUSD Board President Rhoda Bress during a May 5 school board meeting where trustees passed a resolution to join in on the Week of Action. “This week will be a big week about spreading information on our district’s crisis.”

During the past three years, GUSD has cut $6 million from its budget and will be forced to cut an additional $6.7 million if the state legislature does not pass revenue extensions, according to GUSD Fiscal Services.

Faced with these cuts, administrators may be forced to look at drastic measures including the closure of an elementary school, a parcel tax and the elimination of sports, music and physical education.

To hammer these impending realities home and spread the word as to what could happen should funding plummet, teachers will be gathering before and after school Tuesday and Thursday at various school sites to hand out informative fliers. A larger rally will take place at 3:30 p.m. Friday on the corner of First Street and Wren Avenue, where GUSD Superintendent Debbie Flores, members of the school board, district and site school administrators, teachers and classified staff will be in attendance.

GUSD administrators and trustees will also give a presentation to the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee on the state budget and how it will affect the school district. This meeting is open to the public and is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Friday at the Gilroy Chamber of Congress on 7471 Monterey St.

The situation has culminated to joining of forces as the Chamber and City of Gilroy have stepped into the arena to help strengthen GUSD’s voice. The Gilroy City Council recently drafted its own resolution strongly urging “the California State Legislature and governor to approve a state budget that appropriately funds local schools.”

During the past months, GUSD staff has repeatedly expressed frustration that temporary tax extensions will not be placed before voters in a special June ballot; a linchpin that will severely deflate state-guaranteed funding for California Schools.

In their own resolution, GUSD trustees fiercely oppose an all-cuts budget, explaining schools and students “are in a state of emergency” without the needed revenue extensions.

“None of us want to see taxes go up,” said CHS Principal John Perales. “But at the same time we don’t want to see the impact on education. We have to meet in the middle somewhere. I see the impact in my own students and my own children.”

If support doesn’t come through soon, he said, “we will see a drastic turn.”

The most recent cuts passed May 5 by trustees include cuts to seven part-time positions in the home-to-school transportation program.

Currently, GUSD has 10 home-to-school routes serving 1,100 students at a cost to the general fund of $382,044, according to Rebecca G. Wright, assistant superintendent of business services for GUSD.

Next year there will be four home-to-school routes serving 336 students at a cost to the general fund of $36,500.

By law, these cuts will not affect students with special needs, who will continue to receive transportation services.

Additional cuts passed during the May 5 school board meeting – “under protest” as trustee Jaime Rosso put it – included the reduction/restructuring of 24 classified positions, elimination of two full-time positions and one part-time position in GUSD.

“I see the desperate need for these programs,” said Perales. “I see the high impact of classroom numbers, the impact of losing administrative help during the summer – which our board just voted to do.”

There has to be a rallying point, he said. That’s what this week is about – “rallying citizens to how desperate things are.”

During the May 5 school board meeting Bress channeled the district’s frustration in a letter composed to state Sen. Sam Blakeslee.

“I find it unacceptable that you and other Republican members of the legislature are blocking the ability of the citizens of California to have a say in addressing these issues,” she said, reading out loud. “We are considering the unthinkable: Cancellation of home-to-school transportation, closing of schools, decreasing school counseling hours, the elimination of important programs such as intervention classes for our neediest students, sports, and music and more. “In other words, we are slowly and painfully dismantling all that we have worked so hard to build.”

A full schedule for educators

– Today/Thursday: Teachers will be handing out fliers to parents before and after school hours at various school sites

– Wednesday: Day of the Teacher. Teachers will raise awareness and encourage dialogue by wearing black or black arm bands

– Friday: The Gilroy Teacher’s Association, GUSD superintendent, classified staff and possibly board trustees will gather at 3:30 p.m. on the corner of First Street and Wren Avenue with signs and fliers. GUSD administrators and trustees will also give a presentation to the Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Committee on the state budget and how it will affect the school district. This meeting is open to the public and is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. at the Gilroy Chamber of Congress on 7471 Monterey Street

– All week: Parents, teachers and school staff are encouraged to call one senator, assembly member or legislator a day to let them know how funding cuts are affecting Gilroy schools. For a list of contacts and numbers to call, visit GilroyDispatch.com

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