“Always trying to give them the teachers’ point of view,” said Tracy Educators Association President John Anderson, who joined more than a hundred CTA members in Sacramento on Tuesday.
Anderson said he had the opportunity to sit down with Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, who represents Tracy, and staff members for Sen. Lois Wolk and Assemblyman Bill Berryhill.
Anderson said he and others asked that no more cuts be made to educational funding; requested an on-time budget so educators could focus on the governor’s tax initiative; and reiterated that California ranks 47th in per-pupil spending.
Gov. Jerry Brown, who also met with the CTA representatives during a reception Tuesday night, already has the support of many educators in his effort to raise more money for California’s coffers.
Brown is campaigning on behalf of a tax initiative that would give money to schools and provide constitutional protection for public safety funding at a time when the state budget is estimated to run at a $16 billion deficit for 2012-13.
“We’re 100 percent behind the governor’s tax initiative,” Anderson said. “We will do informational fliers in the fall and talk to colleagues, friends and family.”
The governor’s tax measure, which is set to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot for voter approval, would raise income taxes by as much as 3 percent on Californians making more than $250,000 for seven years and would increase the state sales tax by one quarter of 1 percent for four years.
The revised May budget slashes spending in almost every part of government, but it proposes a 16 percent increase in funding for kindergarten-through-12th-grade education, subject to voter approval. Without the initiative, the state would make $5.5 billion in additional cuts to kindergarten-through-community college education as of Jan. 1, according to the governor’s revised budget plan.
Local schools could also be forced to shorten their schedules by 15 days, Anderson added.
Tracy Unified School District’s assistant superintendent for business services, Dr. Casey Goodall, said that if the initiative didn’t pass, Tracy Unified would be looking at a possible budget cut of more than $6 million. In 2011-12, the district had a total budget of $115 million.
“If it passes in November, things will look pretty much in TUSD as they did this year — no additional funds, but no dramatic reductions,” Goodall said, because of the district’s foresighted spending practices in previous years. “If the initiative does not pass, at $441 per student and with 15,000 students, that is roughly $6.6 million in cuts that would occur.”
“We would be able to get through two years before we run out of money,” he added.
Districts are not allowed to campaign for the tax initiative. Goodall said Tracy Unified officials can only inform voters, or join efforts on a personal basis without speaking as representatives of the district.
As parents waited in their vehicles for students to be dismissed at Poet Christian School on Tuesday, a number voiced said they stood behind any effort to fund education.
“I support it (the tax initiative),” said Taryn Britton, the mother of a boy in third grade and a girl in fourth grade. “It’s investing in our future. Even without kids, I’d support it. It’s for the community.”
Anna Gomez, the mother of a third-grader, said she had not kept up on the issues, but she planned to vote this year.
Another parent, Cecilia Torres, said she had not decided where she stood on the initiative, but she noted that her children were affected by state budget cuts.
“Last year, I had a child in preschool at Villalovoz Elementary, and they cut the program,” Torres said. “Before, we had money for music (at Poet Christian); … now we can’t have music.”
School districts are waiting to see what happens, Goodall said.
So far this year, Tracy Unified has laid off 10 teachers, though Goodall hopes to hire them back at some point.
“We’re crossing our fingers,” he said. “If it (the tax initiative) doesn’t happen, we’ll take stock then and figure it out.”