In the State of the State speech, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed cuts to virtually every department within the state, including Education. This drastic action by the Governor is in an attempt to close a budget gap of $16 billion. The Governor asked legislators to suspend Proposition 98, which guarantees schools receive 40% from the State's general budget.
For TUSD this translates into cutting next year's budget by $9.4 million in order to maintain a 3 percent reserve. These cuts include all major categorical programs being reduced between 5 to7 percent. This includes class-size reduction, home-to-school transportation and supplemental counseling. The same percentage reduction is being proposed for special education, which is a federally mandated program.
TUSD continues to find ways to provide excellent educational opportunities to its students. In the face of extreme reductions in state money, this task becomes increasingly difficult. In dealing with the Governor's proposed budget, we have followed a very open, inclusive and transparent process throughout in determining the budget cut plan. All TUSD organizations - PTA, Torrance Teachers Association (TTA), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), California School Employees Association (CSEA), Administrators, etc. - were involved in putting together the budget cut plan. Representation from all TUSD constituents was included on the budget cut committees. Further, we held a special public meeting on February 26, 2008 where over 200 Torrance residents attended to voice there concerns about the plan and to give input and garnered input from teachers, staff, students, parents and the community at our open Board meeting where we approved the budget cut plan on March 3, 2008. Staff and residents have had, and continue to have the ability to give input. Further, the Board has indicated that the top priority (if and when funds become available) is class size reduction in grades 4 and 5.
Dr. Don Stabler, TUSD Deputy Superintendent has been an educational administrator for 30 years. During this time he has experienced four major budget cuts, "this is by far the most severe reduction that has been proposed," he comments.