WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa schools brace for more state cuts


Santa Rosa School Board members are preparing to dust off their budget-cuts list in anticipation of potential mid-year reductions as state revenues continue to lag.

Board members expressed frustration Wednesday not only with the magnitude of the potential cuts, but the lack of clarity from the state over whether those cuts actually will occur.

Sonoma County’s largest school district already has twice tinkered with the school-year calendar as it tries to anticipate funding from Sacramento.

In September, the board added back three school days to the current calendar. But those dates could again be axed from the schedule if funding promises fall through.

Board President Frank Pugh said district officials will know more next month when state lawmakers are expected to decide whether to pull the budgetary “trigger” on scores of constituencies, including K-12 education.

If the state does not receive $4 billion more in revenue over the current fiscal year, the budget deal signed by lawmakers in Sacramento requires the state to impose approximately $1.75 billion in cuts to K-12 schools.

The state was $654 million short of revenue projections at the beginning of October, but Pugh questioned whether lawmakers would actually pull the trigger — saying it would cripple schools and incite wrath among voters.

“Do they have the guts to do it? I don’t know,” he said.

A full cut would mean a loss of $4.9 million to Santa Rosa City Schools, according to Kim Agrella, executive director of fiscal services.

“Where is that going to come from? It doesn’t exist,” Pugh said.

Santa Rosa Teachers Association President Andy Brennan said if the worst-case scenario comes to pass, the three school days the board added back to the current school year will again become furlough days.

By law, the district could cut up to seven additional days.

District officials did get a sliver of good news Wednesday with projections for the 2012-13 school year anticipating slight growth at middle and high schools.

“That is the first time I can say that to you since the early 2000s,” said Associate Superintendent Doug Bower. “It’s only 81 students out of 10,000, but it’s growth. That is a huge turnaround from where we have been.”

Staff writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.

12 Responses to “Santa Rosa schools brace for more state cuts”

  1. RAW says:

    Time for people to homeschool.
    Off the sinking ship.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. brown act jack says:

    A big part of the problem with the schools .
    the belief that all students can learn at the same rate.
    The “bell curve”, a book on childrens performances in schools, showed that 1/2 of the students are less able to do school work that the top half could do.
    And yet the school has to spend money trying to bring the bottom half up to the standards of the top half, when the studemts just are not capable of so doing.
    If a teacher has to spend most of the teaching time trying to get the low performing students to learn , the teacher is not providing the best teaching for the students who are most capable.
    And as society benefits from the best education for the elite students, when the best education is not provided the overall standards of educated people lowers.

    Which may be why some of the other countries out perform our educational system.

    But, I guess that is not important enough to bring changes to the educational system of America.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  3. Alex says:

    What does it matter…not like they are going to graduate anyway…and if they do, it will be just barely…for God’s sake just give them a magazine to read and a diploma and call it a day.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  4. Joe says:

    Where does the money go? We need to ask? We all know where it goes, just like everything else………IT GOES TO THE TOP!!! and the people in the middle carry the all of the debt and burden.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  5. Reality Check says:

    Yes, U.S. K-12 education is poorly ranked around the world, but for reasons other than money. Money has become an excuse to account for the poor performance of U.S. teachers and students. Other countries do better with less. Why is the question that needs to be asked and answered before we’ll likely make any progress.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  6. Dogs Rule says:

    What we really need is bike lanes and billions for SMART and more smoking laws and DUI check points. Schools are so last year.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  7. Sports fan says:

    And people still wonder why the US educational system is ranked near the bottom of industrialized countries?? And we complain about companies sending jobs overseas?? There are countless articles about the severe shortages of qualified American workers with math, science, engineering and computer skills yet our public school system still seems to be clueless. I am truly fearful for the future economic viability of this country.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  8. Shelby says:

    Who are the top paid employee in the state?
    Would you Believe the Most of the State employees that make between $400,000 and $2,000,000 a year are collage professors?
    Does that seem a little out of whack to you ?
    Now how many kids in grade school are
    ESL ( English as a second language )
    How about 25%
    Guess who is footing the bill?

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 3

  9. Social Dis-Ease says:

    As long as they have money for Smart train and Smart Growth…
    that’s what’s really important.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  10. Jim says:

    I’d like to see the detailed numbers for the school district. we all know that the issue isn’t lack of money but lack of proper money management. How much of the money allocated from the state goes into the top-heavy administration? I’ve never seen an article the breaks down where the money goes. Every year, without fail, there are headlines about not having enough money for “police, fire and teachers”. Obama uses that line daily when demanding the “millionaires and billionaires” pay more taxes. Jerry Brown uses it when he talks about increasing taxes. The Press Democrat has headlines all the time about the “lack of funding” for schools. Yet, when you look at the dollars being poured into education, it has risen every year for decades.

    Where did the money go? It is NEVER enough. In CA, the amount of money spent on education has increased but the amount that goes into the classroom has decreased. Hmmmm, where did it go?? Yet every time the media talks about education, the numbers are fogged up by some goofy statistic – dollars per student, dollars compared to XYZ, etc.

    The education system in the US is full of overpaid, over benefited bureaucrats who siphon money from the pool then complain that there isn’t enough. Look up how much goes into the Department of Education. The politicians spin in any opposition to more taxes as being “against children, police and firemen”. The Sheeple, once again, are too stupid to see they are being duped.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

  11. Money Grubber says:

    The lawns in the various city and county parks could be allowed to die off. That would save money on water AND cut back on park maintenance equipment expense. Might even cut a few park employees.

    What is more permanent damage?

    The damage caused by withholding a proper education from young children?

    Or, the temporary damage inflicted upon local parks by letting their lawns die for the next year or two ?

    For you politicians: the answer is that the lawns can always be replanted. We don’t have the luxury of helping kids catch up to what you took from them just to keep your local parks “green.”

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  12. brown act jack says:

    Agsin the boards confuse furloughs with cost savings!

    If you don’t provide the educational days then you are lessening the education of the students.

    it is much better to cut the salaries of all employees of the schoold district by 5 or 10% for real cost savings then to close schools for 5 days.

    Why is that hard to understand?

    oh the employees don’t want to do that, and the board doesn’t want to do that!

    To save money you must cut expenses not the amount of work to be done.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 3

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