Administrators, teachers, trustees and classified employees of the are uniting this week to put pressure on the California Legislature to stop further cuts to education to balance its budget.
Led by the California Teachers Association, the 3,000-student district joined others across the state by kicking off so-called “state of emergency” campaigns that will involve several rallies and teach-ins to bring attention to state lawmakers about the need to extend temporary increases to sales, personal income and vehicle taxes that will expire June 30.
The state Legislature still has $15.4 billion dollars in budget cuts to make to balance its budget by July 1.
A letter co-signed by district Interim Superintendent Dr. Cynthia Simms, school board President Doug Halbert, Los Gatos Elementary Teachers Association President Fran Mastroianni, and LGETA Classified co-presidents Gina Valle and Amy Torres was sent to Los Gatos households on Friday in support of the week-long campaign.
The letter disclosed the services that have been taken away due to the budget cuts, which include the elimination of math mentor positions, a temporary increase in K-3 class size and reduced funds for classroom supplies by 40 percent.
“The intent of the letter was to make parents aware that the district is facing a financial crisis,” Mastroianni said. “We live in a bubble here in Los Gatos and we have not seen some financial impacts that have affected other districts around us.”
Mastroianni, a fourth-grade teacher at Blossom Hill Elementary School, said the district has had enough money in reserve funds to stray away from laying off teachers and imposing furlough days during the school year, however, with a new round of budget cuts from the state, that might not be the case for the next school year.
District teachers and classified staff are scheduled to wear black wristbands to work on Wednesday in solidarity of supporting tax extensions as well as t-shirts on Friday that will read “We Are One” on the back and “State of Emergency” down one of the sleeves.
The letter also urged parents to call local state legislators and tell them to vote in favor of the extensions and take part in the “It's Not Business as Usual” rally at the Civic Center in San Francisco on Friday.
The district, which has four elementary schools and one middle school, has lost almost $1.8 million in state budget cuts during the last three years and could be forced to cut an additional $1.7 million over the next school year if the Legislature does not pass tax revenue extensions, Mastroianni said.
Simms said the most effective way for concerned parents and staff to get their point across would be to contact their local state lawmakers.
“Our school board, teachers’ association, classified association and administration have joined together to address the problems of state cuts to concerned parents and staff of Los Gatos Union School District,” Simms said. “The state budget is truly in a state of emergency and I encourage all interested and concerned parents and staff to call, write or email their state legislators and address these concerns.”
At a board workshop at 6 p.m., Tuesday evening, at district headquarters in the Thomas P. O’Donnell board room, 17010 Roberts Rd., trustees will vote on a resolution calling for the tax extensions, she added.
For more information about the State of Emergency Campaign, visit www.castateofemergency.com.