Alhambra schools may be spared more budget cuts

After a $50 million loss over the last three years, the Alhambra Unified School District may be spared a cut next year due to an unexpected increase in state revenues. Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget released last week showed a $3 billion increase for K-12 education for the 2011-12 school year. If the budget is approved, Alhambra schools will receive an amount equivalent to the current school year. While still less than in past years, teachers and administrators welcomed the news.

“This is a relief because up until now, we didn’t know if we would have to make more cuts,” Alhambra Teachers Association Executive Director Terry Skotnes said. “Most school districts will receive their basic state funding, which is the same amount as the precious year.”

While the $3 billion may seem promising, Alhambra schools may not be able to roll back their cuts just yet. The revised budget is filled with uncertainties regarding tax extensions. Much of the funding awaiting public schools hinges upon voters’ approval of vehicle license fees, income tax and sales tax extensions.

“The main component of the governor’s budget is tax extensions,” said Skotnes. “While the Governor says he needs tax extensions for stability, there has been an increase in state revenue that had led to this $3 billion increase.”

Skotnes feels that the increase in K-12 funding is largely due to recent protests and demonstrations by California teachers. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence,” Skotnes said, noting that the governor released the revised budget the week after teacher protests included demonstrations at Pershing Square and the state capitol in Sacramento.

Alhambra residents have also been vocal in opposition to school cuts. Nearly 1000 people turned out at San Gabriel High School for this month’s Town Hall forum, voicing their concerns about the future of public education. Board President Adele Andrade-Stadler asked attendees to continue to support local schools.

“Whether or not this revise will save us I’m not sure because we’ve had so many cuts,” Andrade-Stadler said at last Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. “Continue to fight for public education.”

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