Having already made cutbacks and concessions for years, Charter Oak Unified School District has decided to make its voice heard that enough is enough.
On Friday, May 13, a rally will be held in front of Charter Oak High School at 3 p.m. in a show of solidarity in the belief that financial investments in education need to be made at the state government level. The rally will mostly consist of teachers holding signs and passing out information, but the aim is to raise awareness parents picking their children up from school.
In fact, the ‘Friday the 13th’ date is no coincidence, as the idea behind the rally is for the state to “stop bringing bad luck to our schools,” said Charter Oak School Board Member Robert Cruz. While money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has delayed some teacher layoffs for a year, Charter Oak looks to its neighbor Glendora Unified, and the closing of Williams Elementary, for an example of the kind of hard realities it could be facing.
“Any additional hit to our budget would be devastating,” said Cruz, citing an impending potential loss of $349 to $1200 per student. “We’re trying to keep this issue in front of the community.”
The school board’s solution to the issue may not be a popular one, however. With a current one percent California sales tax which directly funds K-12 education set to expire in July, the district would like to see more support for an extension of the tax, as outlined in Governor Jerry Brown’s initial budget proposal. A vehicle licensing fee is also set to expire.
“It’s an ongoing effort with educators and administration,” in dealing with budget cuts, explains district Superintendent Mike Hendricks. “But public education has already done its fair share of reduction.”
For now, the district must take a wait-and-see approach in seeing how Governor Browns attempts to close the state’s budget deficit. However, Beth Smith, president of the Charter Oak Educators Association, gets to take a more proactive route.
“It’s nice to have a network of people who organize around the state,” explains Smith, who also works closely with the California Teachers Association. The rally at Charter Oak High is actually part of a larger effort to raise awareness the week of May 9 throughout the district—and throughout the state—and it’s Smith who often keeps tabs on these other efforts, and organizes support close to home.
The rally is also associated with the ‘Red for Ed’ campaign in the district, which encourages students and faculty to wear red in solidarity against further budget cuts.