Santa Clarita Teachers 'Stand Up For Schools'
Schools across California head to the streets to outline effects of state budget cuts.
If you were in the vicinity of a Sulphur Springs District school this morning, chances are you saw a line of teachers on the sidewalk passing out papers to parents dropping off their kids. The papers detailed the effects of the proposed state budget cuts on the Sulphur Springs District, and were part of an awareness campaign organized throughout the state by the California Teachers Association called "Stand Up For Schools."
Every school district in Santa Clarita is facing major cuts in funding. That, coupled with unfunded mandates and increasing costs has put the districts in a situation where teacher layoffs and increasing class sizes are about the only places left to save money.
Newhall School District needs to cut $1.5 million from next year's budget, and Sulphur Springs District Superintendent Dr. Robert Nolet says that his organization may need to shave nearly $4 million.
"I've been very fortunate - this is almost my 30th year as superintendent of the Sulphur Springs School District. This is by far the worst budget crisis or budget situation that we've had to deal with," Dr. Nolet said.
To combat the funding shortfall, the District is now looking at potentially raising the classroom size to 30 students, laying off as many as 40 teachers, eliminating home to school transportation, removing several administrative positions and cutting five student instruction days.
Those effects all involve local schools, and that's the message teachers were trying to spread this morning. Gayle Abril, principal of Golden Oak Elementary School in the Sulphur Springs District, said that her staff could take a huge hit if state funding doesn't increase.
"Of our 18 teachers, 7 of them have received layoff notices," she told KHTS. "That's a third of our staff, so this is greatly impacting our school."
All layoff notices represent potential layoffs. Official layoffs must occur by the middle of May.
Abril believes that the SOS message sent by teachers this morning did serve as a wake up call for some local residents.
"I had numerous parents come to me and say 'Oh my gosh, I heard about the cuts, but I just didn't realize it was my school,'" Abril recalled. "I think when it hits home like that, our community rallies together."
For Dr. Nolet, the budget crisis has an effect that reaches through the professional world and into the personal.
"On a personal note, over [my] 30 years we've been able to build a tremendous school district that provides a tremendous amount of service for students into the community and it's very difficult to be taking that apart."
Teachers have been urging parents to oppose the budget cuts in writing to their local state representative.
In Santa Clarita, or representatives are:
Cameron Smyth (most of Santa Clarita, Stevenson Ranch)
Audra Strickland (Castaic, Val Verde)
George Runner (most of Canyon Country, Newhall and Saugus - click here for a district map)
Tony Strickland (Valencia, Stevenson Ranch - click here for a district map)
Photos: Teachers at Golden Oak Elementary School pass out information to parents (courtesy of Gayle Abril)