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Morgan Hill
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September 27, 2021

Schools rouse district-wide rally against state budget cuts

Parents and students are choosing a new way to start the day
Thursday morning
– by standing up against the mismanagement of money in
Sacramento and the continuous cuts to education. Before the first
bell rings, community members are expected to rally in front of
Britton Middle School between 6:30 and 9 a.m. as their contribution
to the statewide movement

Start the Day for Students.

Parents and students are choosing a new way to start the day Thursday morning – by standing up against the mismanagement of money in Sacramento and the continuous cuts to education. Before the first bell rings, community members are expected to rally in front of Britton Middle School between 6:30 and 9 a.m. as their contribution to the statewide movement “Start the Day for Students.”

Thousands across the state will wake up a little earlier Thursday to protest the state’s slashing of school district budgets and layoffs, something Morgan Hill Unified School District knows all too well.

“We’ve pretty much cut all the fat, so I really think it’s time to show support for our schools and let the legislators know they need to come up with a plan to fund our school’s properly,” said Martin Murphy’s Home and School Club president Veronica Hoyle.

Children will make homemade signs this week and Hoyle said each school is planning to bring its own banner to demonstrate that all MHUSD schools are rallying behind their schools and educators. Britton was chosen as the host because it’s the most visible school in the district, located on Monterey Road north of downtown. Teachers and staff will make an effort to be a part of Thursday’s protest if time allows, but many must be at work during the rally. Hoyle added that the public is encouraged to stop by before school even if it’s just for a few minutes to lend their support.

Donna Ruebusch, a Federation of Teachers staff representative, said the teacher’s union is very appreciative of the parental support and while the union didn’t organize the event, it’s important that the public understands the difficulties that schools are up against.

Along with showing support, “Start the Day for Students” is a time to protest the state’s tax breaks for large corporations and the mishandled tax structure that has sent the state’s budget spiraling out of control. MHUSD was forced to cut $9 million in the past two years, including firing 16 classified employees. Another $2.8 million must be trimmed this year.

Last week, the school board approved the increase of class sizes to 24 students to every teacher in kindergarten through third grade, initiating the layoffs of 28 elementary school teachers in the district.

In a recent report using calculations by the California Department of Education, California earned a grade of “F” in per-pupil-spending of $7,571. That’s $2,400 below the national average and poor enough for a ranking of No. 46 in the nation.

“I mean, California – leading edge of technology,” Hoyle said about the state’s position. “It’s just ridiculous.”

Hoyle has also served on budget committees in the past and with a child in MHUSD, she’s seen the real consequences of a lack of funding – funding that students deserve, she said.

The board is organizing a new budget committee that will review the 2010 numbers once they’re prepared then report to Superintendent Dr. Wes Smith and the board on its opinions and improvements.

The school board is behind the rally and unanimously passed a resolution Feb. 23 in support of the day of action, with Smith’s consent and encouragement.

As the community gathers momentum for Thursday’s protest, the MHUSD board will assemble a list of additions to the board’s basic goals, along with expectations for Smith, tonight in Sobrato High School’s library. The set of goals were produced by the board for 2007-09 on Superintendent Alan Nishino’s watch, but possible enhancements of the goals and its subsidiary objectives will be discussed from 6 to 9 p.m.

The MHUSD is responsible for developing the goals with input from the superintendent, teachers, staff, parents and community members. It’s possible the board will renew that list and use is as a foundation to build upon after discussions tonight.

According to school board President Bart Fisher the additions will include a focus on four-year college preparedness for all students, and embedding evaluation and assessment at all levels.

Also at the workshop, Smith will reciprocate with a final update on his 90-day initial outreach plan and what he has worked on in his first three months on the job, which ended in mid-February.

Smith said his No. 1 effort in his first 90 days has been to listen to the needs of the community and pioneer a more collaborative approach in his tenure. Shortening the achievement gap, especially in the Latino community and fixing the budget are also at the top of his to-do list.

“There’s a lot that has to be done, but I’ve got a lot of time,” Smith said about being able to accomplish the many goals and needs of the school district.

Tonight the board will discuss student achievement, how it can support the superintendent, develop a long-term plan and establish a timeline. Finally, it will present ideas to district and school leadership teams and solicit their input.

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