We all knew that California would be facing a huge budget deficit this year. However, nothing prepared us for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's initial solution: Solving the fiscal emergency strictly through budget cuts, including cutting education by an incredible $4.8 billion, which will daily impact the 9,000 students in our districts.
Too often when the state faces a budget shortage, politicians immediately want to attack Proposition 98, the minimum funding guarantee for education, to solve the problem.
The fact is that Prop. 98 was passed by voters to protect funding for students' education.
The Quality Counts report, which is released each January and compares California's education system to other state systems, currently ranks California 47th among the 50 states, with an adjusted expenditure level of $7,081 per student compared to the national average of $8,973 per student.
New Jersey and New York rank first and second respectively, with cost adjusted expenditures of more than $12,200 per student.
As superintendents, given the state cuts, we worry that California will soon be 50th. Locally, the Walnut Creek and Acalanes districts are funded below the California average.
This year's $16 billion deficit and 10 percent across-the-board cuts to education will mean large cuts in the Walnut Creek and Acalanes districts.
The Walnut Creek School District will have to cut $1.5 million for 2008-09 and $1.l4 million in 2009-10.
Since the Walnut Creek district budget is $25 million, these cuts are deep. The layoff will include 13.33 teachers, 2.5 teaching coaches, 6 custodians, a counselor, a director, many aides, secretaries, maintenance and more.
We clearly are balancing the state budget on the backs of our children.
The Acalanes district will make $2.45 million in budget reductions in 2008-09 that involve 18.6 teachers, 1.5 administrators, and 18.2 classified employees.
These numbers are real people with whom you and your students interact with daily.
Without a generous contribution of $1 million from the parent clubs and educational foundations, the cuts would be even deeper.
Besides personnel cuts, the district is reducing a number of programs including summer school and professional development for teachers.
The district projects cutting at least another $1 million in 2009-10.
We oppose the governor's proposed solutions to balance the 2008-09 budget and his plan to eviscerate Proposition 98.
Our students did not create this budget crisis and education of the next generation should not be undermined because of it.
These budget reductions would be disastrous to public schools. We are confident that the Walnut Creek community won't stand for it.
Wool, Ed.D., is superintendent of the Walnut Creek School District and Negri is superintendent Acalanes Union High School District.