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EGUSD in the Spotlight
Elk Grove Unified Hosts Sacramento County Superintendents’ Press Conference on State Budget Cuts
Elk Grove Unified School District’s Valley High School hosted State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and ten superintendents from across the region on February 29 to discuss the devastation that proposed state budget cuts would bring to public education in Sacramento County.
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Elk Grove Unified Superintendent Steven M. Ladd, Ed.D. and Sacramento County Superintendent David Gordon
“The Governor’s proposed budget represents the largest dollar cuts to public education in the history of California,” said Elk Grove Unified Superintendent Steven M. Ladd, Ed.D. “I recognize that our state leaders must grapple with California’s budget crisis. But the solution to the state’s fiscal crisis cannot be solved by cutting the very things that will make our future generations successful -- teaching and learning.”
The budget proposed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in January closes the state's $14.5 billion budget gap through cuts alone, with no revenue increases. He has proposed the equivalent of a 10 percent reduction in all state department budgets for fiscal year 2008-09, including public education. Also on the table is his recommendation to suspend Proposition 98.
Photo: California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell and Sacramento County Superintendent David Gordon
“Two things are clear: we have a serious budget shortfall and education is on the chopping block again. The Governor’s proposed budget calls for $4.8 billion in cuts to public education,” Superintendent O’Connell said. “Educators are being forced to deal with the threat of cuts to their resources instead of being allowed to focus on educating our children.”
In Sacramento County school districts this proposal translates into $85 million in cuts, with the possibility of more than 600 school employees losing their jobs, said Sacramento County Superintendent David Gordon. Several districts are considering either eliminating or reducing class size reduction, which would create larger class sizes.
Many districts would be forced to eliminate more bus routes or be forced to increase bus fees that they are already charging to transport students. Programs such as music, art, PE, summer school, library services, and instructional support would either be greatly reduced or eliminated, Superintendent Gordon said.
“Frankly, these are cuts from which this generation of students might not fully recover,” Superintendent Gordon said.
Like other school districts in the region, Elk Grove Unified School District is facing sweeping cuts if the Governor’s proposed budget comes to fruition. Under the current proposal, Elk Grove Unified would face a $25 million shortfall in the 2008/2009 and again in the 2009/2010 school years.
“In our district, we are still recuperating from the cuts we made between 2002 and 2004 due to state budget woes at that time,” Dr. Ladd said. “Then and now we are being thoughtful in our approach to budget cuts. However, $25 million is a lot of money. And despite our best efforts, we know these cuts will impact many of the improvements we’ve incorporated into our education programs.”
“As school districts we deliver our programs with dedicated and committed people. Most of our budgets go towards paying salaries and benefits,” Superintendent Ladd said. “At Elk Grove Unified, over 85 percent of our budget goes to paying personnel costs. That means the cuts we’re facing this year, once again, involve a reduction of people, including teachers and other staff.”
Some of the cuts that Elk Grove Unified is facing includes eliminating 9th grade class size reduction in English and math at the district’s comprehensive high schools. At the elementary schools, the district is looking at reverting back to the 100-minute model in kindergarten. Although it will allow the district to keep 50 percent of a class size reduction model, it does not provide the district the ability to have the 20:1 student to teacher ratio we currently use. For more information on the 100 minute model, click here.
In addition the district has identified cuts for instructional coaches and resource teachers, professionals who support efforts to increase student achievement and lower the achievement gap. Other areas include unfilled vacant administrative positions and a review of administrative staffing, which is already below state averages.
Finally the district will reduce textbook funds, summer school offerings, supplies, professional learning opportunities and other services.
“Right now Elk Grove Unified is planning for the worst case scenario, but hoping for the best,” Ladd said. “That best can only be achieved if our state leaders decide to invest in our future by investing in our children.”
Speakers included Superintendent O’Connell, Superintendent Gordon, Superintendent Ladd, Sacramento City Unified Superintendent M. Magdalena Carrillo Mejia, San Juan Superintendent Steve Enoch, Folsom Cordova Unified Superintendent Pat Godwin, Elk Grove Education Association President Tom Gardner and Valley High School parent LaDonna Greene.
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Elk Grove Education Association President Tom Gardner and Sacramento County Superintendent David Gordon
Other superintendents in attendance included Twin Rivers Unified Superintendent Frank Porter, Natomas Unified Superintendent Steve M. Farrar, Galt Joint Union Elementary Superintendent Karen Schauer, Robla Superintendent Ralph Friend and River Delta Unified Superintendent Alan Newell. Honored guests also included Elk Grove Unified Board President Brian Myers, Board Clerk William Lugg, Jr. and board members Jeanette Amavisca, Pamela Irey and Chet Madison, Sr.
California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Elk Grove Unified Superintendent Steven M. Ladd, Ed.D., Sacramento County Superintendent David Gordon and Valley High School parent LaDonna Greene
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