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Lawmakers Talk with Schools about Cuts

Posted: March 4, 2008 11:31 p.m.
Updated: May 6, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Politicians representing the Santa Clarita Valley in Sacramento say they are well aware of the agonizing decisions local school districts are being forced to make in order to comply with Governor Schwarzenegger's proposed state cuts to the education budget, and hope steps can be taken to minimize the impact to local classrooms.

"No one understands the conundrum local governments face because of the state budget better than I do," said state Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, a former Santa Clarita City Council member. "It is my hope that we can minimize the impact to public education as much as possible."

Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, said he has had conversations with the superintendents of Santa Clarita school districts and plans to stay in contact with them throughout the budget process. However, some cuts to the state budget are inevitable, he said.

"I think people need to understand that cuts have to be made - not just in education, but across the board," Smyth said. "We're looking at a very serious crisis."

State Sen. George Runner met with district superintendents in the Antelope Valley last week to discuss different options districts have in the budgeting process. Runner, R-Antelope Valley, said he sympathizes with educators who have to prepare for the "worst-case scenario."

"No one knows exactly what's going to take place with the state budget at this point," he said.

Runner wants greater flexibility in district spending, specifically in the area of categorical spending, which includes money used for specific educational purposes. He also wants to waive the mandatory reserve on categorical dollars.

"This will allow the districts to put more money into the classrooms," he said. "They will also have more money to spend if they don't have to keep that reserve."

More will be known about the governor's proposed cuts when the May revision of the state budget is released.

"I don't think the governor's proposal will go through as it is laid out, but there certainly will be some cuts to funding," Runner said. "Hopefully we can fix it by getting greater flexibility in spending to the districts."

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