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Budget "bake sale" agitates for school funds

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Chocolate brownies were going for a dollar apiece, Mark Buchman announced, and at that rate, he said, the county would only have to sell 325 million of the sweet snacks to meet the needs of local students.

Buchman, a San Luis Coastal Unified School District trustee, gathered with a small group of parents, educators, and community members in front of the county courthouse for a mock bake sale, Sept 15. They said that if the state legislature and the governor could not “do their job” and pass a budget—then 77 days late—in a timely manner, that they would raise the money themselves the old fashioned way.

The money crunch has affected every district in the county, prompting all 12 district superintendents in the county to endorse a letter to the governor, urging him to pass a budget. They said the delay means schools, and many other organizations reliant on state funds, have not received funds for more than two months.

“As the state budget stalemate lingers,” the letter warned. “Critical school programs are not being funded and our students continue to be shortchanged.”

Among the programs that have been hardest hit by the delay, according to the letter, are special education, adult education, summer school programs, gifted and talented education, charter schools, and community day schools.

“The districts have been playing a shell game,” to continue operating, Buchman said, “moving money around from one fund to another.”

Buchman said that Coastal Unified has used reserve funds and savings, but warned that the money could dry up within weeks. Perhaps more frightening to this group is the prospect of cuts to education if a budget deal is signed into law.

“This would set us back to where we were years ago,” Buchman warned. “Any cuts to education are unconscionable.”

At press time, state representatives had approved a budget, but Governor Schwarzenegger has promised to veto it, setting off a tit-for-tat clash between lawmakers.

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