School of Education Hosts State Schools Chief, Inland Superintendents, in a Forum on Budget Crisis
June 1, 2009 -
That’s how State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell described recently the estimated $5.3 billion in education budget cuts that will hit the state in the coming months.
"This is an ugly, ugly budget,” the schools chief told more than 100 people gathered at an education forum sponsored by the University of Redlands School of Education. "This is the most serious fiscal crisis we have seen, not just in my generation but in my lifetime.”
O’Connell provided a state perspective on the painful realities of the California education budget crisis during the forum. Kenneth Young, Superintendent of the Riverside County Office of Education, and Gary S. Thomas, Superintendent of the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools, also discussed cuts being made in the region.
Panelists said that school districts will continue to make dramatic cuts, including increasing class sizes, additional teacher layoffs, including a round that could come in August, and the elimination of summer school, art and music programs.
Some districts also are expected to eventually be unable to make enough cuts to balance their budgets, making them insolvent.
"You have districts that are chewing through their reserves right now,” Thomas said. "Where are they going to end up later, when they don’t have reserves? There’s just nowhere else to go.”
The School of Education event was designed to provide information on the budget to area educators, parents, and voters, among others.
During a question and answer session, some forum-goers wanted to know how they could best advocate for the state’s schools and students in the coming months.
The panelists said people interested in public education should take a number of steps, particularly those designed to raise awareness of the need for adequate education funding.
Thomas said he worries that in the past, educators have downplayed cuts because they are committed to making sure that students and families are unaffected. But he said the public should be aware of the pain of such cuts.
"I invite you to lift your voices and let them hear what you think about the cuts to education," Thomas told the group.
Call the School of Education at 909-748-8815 for information on upcoming public forums and other events.
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