Volume 44, Number 3 - March/April 2009
Concern raised over $11 billion cut to K-14
Intense lobbying by CCA/CTA and other community college advocates helped prevent massive budget cuts to community colleges, but until voters approve several ballot propositions, nothing is secure.
Following a three-month stalemate, the state Legislature approved an 18-month compromise budget on Feb. 19 that will enable community colleges to serve students turned away by the state’s four-year university systems. Nevertheless, students and faculty in the community college system will be making sacrifices in the form of larger class sizes, fewer class offerings longer waits to obtain counseling.
“We are very concerned with the cancellation of classes within the community colleges that find our part-time faculty loosing their jobs. These invisible pink slips don’t give notice that can be fought like tradition RIF notices,” said CCA President Ron Norton Reel. “The districts simply cut sections taught by part-time faculty because they are at-will employees.”
Increases in the Cost of Living Adjustment for faculty will also be eliminated this year.
“It’s really more notable for the bad things we prevented, including an increase in student fees, 5 percent apportionment cuts and 20 percent cuts to categorical programs.”
Included in the budget is a 3 percent enrollment growth of $185.4 million that will provide enough funds for 36,000 new full-time equivalent students; as well as maintenance of funding for Cal Grants, which provide 22,500 grants to students.
CTA was also able to preserve Prop. 98, the state’s minimum school funding law, which came under attack during budget negotiations.
The compromise budget plan corrects the attempted unlawful manipulation of the minimum school funding law by placing an initiative on the special election ballot to repay the more than $9 billion owed to education over several years. The restoration of this money will be critical to the future of our public schools and colleges.
“The fact that legislators acknowledge that this money is owed to schools is miles away from where they started,” Reel said.
Still, K-12 schools and community colleges will be cut by more than $11 billion under the approved budget. When compared to all other program cuts in the budget, K-12 schools are taking more than 50 percent of the adopted cuts.
“This is not a good budget, but it could have been so much worse.”
“This is the largest single budget cut ever to public education in California,” Reel said. “With California already ranking 47th in the nation in per-pupil funding, these new cuts only escalate the race to the bottom. With these cuts, we could lose a generation of students – our future students.”
Current budget cuts are likely to result in more than 25,000 K-12 educators receiving lay-off notices as well.
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