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School officials rally against cuts

Administrators gather in Sacramento.

Posted: March 12, 2008 1:58 a.m.
Updated: May 13, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
Hundreds of school leaders from throughout California gathered at the state capitol Monday to denounce the governor's proposed cuts to education and to call on lawmakers to protect students and schools in the budget process.

The rally was scheduled to coincide with the Association of California School Administrator's Legislative Action Day, which brought more than 400 administrators to Sacramento, including Rick Grove, assistant superintendent of personnel for the Saugus Union School District, and Jim Gibson, superintendent of the Castaic Union School District.

"It was a good turnout, and I think it went really well," Grove said.

He was able to meet with state Sen. George Runner, Assemblywoman Sharon Runner and the staff of Assemblyman Cameron Smyth during the day. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed more than $4 billion in cuts to education in the 2008-09 state budget.

"I explained that the governor's proposals with respect to the budget are untenable," Grove said. "The programs that have helped create award-winning schools in this valley are not sustainable under this budget."

Grove said that the legislators he spoke with were very receptive to his concerns.

"We understand that education is going to take its lumps like everything else, but we need them to not be as severe as proposed," Grove said. "They (legislators) need to prioritize, and education should not bear the brunt of these cuts."

Grove and other school administrators urged lawmakers to oppose the governor's proposal to suspend Proposition 98, which guarantees minimum education funding levels for students and schools.

"We have rich years and then we have lean years, and we can't continue to budget education on this pendulum," Grove said.

According to Grove, California already receives less funding than most states in the nation.

"Out of 50 states, our level of funding is number 46," he said. "Yet we have some of the highest standards in the country."

Local school districts have been struggling the past few weeks to find ways to cut their budgets in order to meet the governor's proposed cuts, even though the state budget has not yet been approved. Last week the Saugus district approved a "qualified" budget, which means the district is unable to meet its future financial obligations.

"Right now we don't even know what state budget we're working with," Grove said. "School districts are required to produce a budget by the end of June, while the state budget probably won't be known until August."

Superintendent Gibson could not be reached for comment, but Grove said he was glad Gibson was there to represent the valley.

"Jim was there for the rally, and it was great to have a superintendent there to represent the Santa Clarita Valley," he said.

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