Anyone who cares about the future should spend Wednesday calling state legislators to demand Governor Jerry Brown's proposed tax extension gets on the ballot, according to one of the leaders of California’s second largest school district.
The San Diego Unified School District alone faces a $120 million shortfall for next school year. Cuts will mean eliminating hundreds of jobs from teachers and nurses to librarians and bus drivers. It may also mean smaller class size and fewer educational programs.
“In the 150-plus years of the history of this district, depressions, wars, we’ve never faced this kind of decimation to our education system,” said Richard Barrera San Diego Unified School Board president.
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The San Diego County Board of Education believes Brown's plan for a tax extension could have significant implications for local schools suffering right now with an overwhelming budget deficit.
At the county’s meeting Wednesday night, they will consider a resolution in support of Brown’s plan.
Given the state's $26 billion shortfall for an $85 billion budget, the governor wants about half the cuts to come from programs and services. Brown wants the other half to be raised through continuation of the three temporary tax increases enacted 18 months ago by the legislature on high end income, sales and motor vehicles.
A two-thirds vote of support from the state legislature is required to get the proposed tax extension on the June ballot. The governor is still seeking legislators' support to reach that threshold.
“It’s not where we need to be as a state making these kinds of cuts to public education,” said Barrera who believes the cuts are actually starting to threaten the health and safety of children.
“It’s a terrible thing to do to adults but it’s a worse thing to do to kids,” he said. “If you start cutting teachers, you’re shoving kids into overcrowded classrooms and guaranteeing some kids are going to fall through the cracks.”
A voter-approved tax extension could help fill $57 million of that gaping hole here in San Diego.
“We can make a difference if the legislature would just put the measure on the ballot,” Barrera said.
The county meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Linda Vista at the regional technology center.
Getting the proposal on the ballot is only part of the fight. If that comes to pass, look for a spirited campaign between now and June.