County schools concerned about impacts if voters reject Prop 30

By September 14, 2012

“El Dorado County’s 15 school districts, serving approximately 28,000 students, will face severe impacts that almost certainly will damage educational quality if California voters reject Proposition 30 on November 6th, 2012,” warned a recently formed coalition of school teachers, parents, support staff, board members, school administrators and local officials.

The El Dorado Schools Coalition, formed in early August, isn’t officially endorsing Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30. However, members of the committee offer an analysis of what is likely to happen should it fail.

“We must be sure the public understands what will happen if the initiative does not pass,” stated El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools Vicki Barber. “Unless an alternate source of funds is created, there will be immediate, as well as long term, impacts on students and families that will be horrific.

“If Proposition 30 does not pass we are looking at about a $455 cut per child, nearly 10 percent of the state’s annual per-pupil funding amount,” she continued. “This $455 per student cut will be in addition to the 20 percent funding reduction we have already experienced over the past five years, or about $22 million countywide.”

El Dorado County is a microcosm of the state as a whole, where schools would face a $5.5 billion reduction that could require cutting the instructional school year by a full three weeks. “The idea of losing that much learning time would be a tragedy for students and families,” Barber said.

Deputy Superintendent of Educational Services Jeremy Meyers is also concerned, saying, “Besides the larger class sizes, reduced arts education, fewer academic and career counselors, unstaffed school libraries, and fewer instructional days in some districts, many districts have not been able to purchase updated textbooks or other teaching materials for years, and some districts are reducing school-bus service, creating a significant hardship for families, especially in the more-rural areas of our county.”

Meyers also noted that despite this significant loss in funding, 81 percent of school districts in the county have continued to achieve the statewide academic performance targets because of dedicated professionals who “make do” despite cuts. But he said he fears many districts are approaching a tipping point, and may no longer be able to sustain the excellence they’ve worked so hard to achieve if Proposition 30 fails.

Members of the El Dorado Schools Coalition agree:  “We must come together to do what needs to be done to protect educational opportunities and the future for our young people.”

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