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Mother Lode School Officials Fear Governor’s New Proposal

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Sonora, CA — Mother Lode schools officials are concerned with a proposal by the Governor to withhold billions of dollars more from California schools by changing the way schools are paid back under the voter approved Proposition 98.

“It would have very negative effects on local districts, and I´m not supportive of it,” says Joe Silva, Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools. “I understand the state that the budget is in, but education would take a $7 billion hit.”

Under the rules of voter approved Prop. 98, the $7 billion in cuts would have to be paid back when the state´s finances improve. Schwarzenegger´s finance officials contend, however, that the rapid drop in revenues is forcing the state to utilize a new formula for funding education that would not require the state to reimburse schools in the future.

Calaveras County Superintendent of Schools John Brophy says that when all of the proposed cuts are added up, it would result in nearly a 10 percent reduction in funding.

“10 percent of your funds, when a lot of it is already committed for personnel, lunches for kids and getting them to school, is a huge hit,” adds Brophy. “In Calaveras County alone where we have an approximately $40 million budget, it adds up to $4 million.”

If approved, the Governor´s proposal is expected to result in reductions in school staff across the state and an increase classroom sizes.

“Right now, according to a study that came out Tuesday, California ranks 47th in per pupil spending,” says Silva. “With his (Schwarzenegger) cuts we would be number 50. Mississippi would then spend more per pupil than California.”

California´s slow economy and the failure of the legislature to pass a budget have resulted in a projected $40 billion deficit over the next 18 months.

Written by BJ Hansen

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