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Who Gets Cut by the School District Cuts?

Librarians and special education aides are not the only ones affected.

At , school trustees voted to reduce the hours and in some cases the positions of 90 classified employees. While there is plenty of empathy for employees, students and families will be hard hit as well.

“Voting to cut services that directly affect children every day is a serious issue that shouldn't be made in a hasty fashion,” said Nikki Lintc, a special-education assistant. She asked the board to vote "no" or postpone the cuts, saying, “The list calls for cuts and layoffs of 90 positions, which I prefer to call people.”

Proposed reductionswere announced only a few days prior to Thursday's meeting. “There has not been enough time to explain how and why the cuts will affect the quality of education,” said Lintc. "You really should think about using part of the $5.9 million reserve before making any more cuts.”

High school special-education assistant Kathy DeMartile told the board, “It hurts my pocketbook, but it hurts my heart more.” She pointed out that 43 of the 90 cuts are special-education positions that could affect 160 students.

Although that's less than 10 percent of the student body, fewer special-education aides could put a strain on teachers and the general student population because special-education students can be disruptive without individual aides.

Karen LaRiverie, a high-school parent, volunteer and member of , said, “I think they (the board) still have their work cut out for them."

 “Year after year, people get pink slips. You really don't know if this is the year that it will go through. How do you pay your bills doing that?”

Benicia High library media manager Dorothy Hanson could have her hours cut by 25 percent. “It was pretty devastating,” she said.

Hanson said she was surprised to receive notice that her position was affected. “This is the first time since 2003 that I received that kind of notice. I was under the impression that I was under the general fund. Maybe they did in fact change my funding source but I was totally unaware of that.”

A 20-year veteran at Benicia High School, Hanson voluntarily took on the textbook management program, which is not part of her job. She and volunteers physically bar-coded 8,000 textbooks, saving the district thousands of dollars in lost books. “If I am cut by one day a week, I don't know when I am going to do it. As it is, I work in excess of my 40 hours every week.”

Hanson's reduction in hours means the library would be closed one day a week. She estimates that 60 to 70 students use the library during lunch and 30 to 40 before and after school. Many students come for access to technology and computers that they don't have at home.

“Having a library is an essential element,” she said. When Hanson told students that the library may not be open at lunch next year, their reactions were, “How can that be? Where am I going to go?”

Rich Tatro April 13, 2011 at 07:57 PM
What I do in my business and my personal life is try and take an objective view of whatever hurdle I’m trying to overcome. The good news is by doing this I accept responsibility for what I can change. The older I get I find increasingly harder to change my own behavior and I am under no illusion that I can change anybody else’s behavior. So what would I do about the problems with BUSD? 1. I think BUSD has an image problem and they need to repair that with the community. Whether they know it or want to believe it their image is we know best just give us more money. The message from the community isn’t we don’t want to support school; it’s that times are tough and we’re tired of throwing good money after bad. 2. Prioritize, what is the point of the K-12 school system? I believe it is to educate our children some they can grow up to be responsible and productive members of society. So how many students do we have in the district? How many are out of district transfers? Does it cost more to have the transfers in our district than the state is paying us? How many teachers do we NEED to properly educate the children? 3. Make a plan of action; we already know that there is not enough money to go around. Let me restate that I believe there is enough money to go around its just stuck in the wrong coffers. Part 2
Rich Tatro April 13, 2011 at 08:04 PM
We didn’t get in this trouble overnight and we should not expect to get out of it overnight. If you would take the time to review your post you would see that you’re trying to defend the un-defendable the results speak for themselves. So let’s start a knew we have a lot of really smart people in this community I know would like to help solve the problem they just want to know it’s not going to be business as usual. To the Patch community I'm sorry for the excess post
Karen LaRiviere April 13, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Rich I applaud your passion and you are certainly right on the money with the district's image problem. That's been a problem for years along with terrible communication with the community. I think sometimes we want big organizations to be all things to all people and you are also correct in that the purpose of the K-12 system is to education our kids to be responsible, productive adults. Unfortunately, over the years there have been far too many cooks in the kitchen stirring a pot of what they think is best and what we're and our kids are left with is a smelly pot of slop. The school district has held community budget forums several times a year for the last few years. The one they held this year for suggestions on what to do had about 20 people, 15 of them were "old-timers" and not too many new ideas came out of the meeting. Everyone thinks all that needs to be done is "cut the fat" but there is no fat left. I heard a teenager on the radio today who was rightfully angry because his generation has been short-changed by all the tax-cutting, Prop 13 adults and he had a point. Before Prop 13 California had the best roads, colleges, schools. We were truly the golden state. Now, we are fighting to stay off the bottom with Mississippi now. There's no question that something had to be done to keep old folks from losing their homes but corporations don't need property tax breaks but that's the way things are and we have to deal with it. Part 1
Robert Livesay April 14, 2011 at 02:07 AM
I am sorry Karen prop 13 is not the problem. Old folks were not going to lose ther homes. Why do corporations not need tax breaks? Explain that one to me, maybe you can convince me. The real problem is to much PC. Cut that garbage out and you will have very good schools. What is wrong with english only in our schools. Is it not a privilege to be in America. Did prop 13 cause the housing downfall, NO. Remember proberty taxes are based on selling price. No one complained when houses were selling at inflated prices. The school districts took the money gladly. My feeling is there was bad management of the funds. Not enough put away for a rainy day. How come when I went to school the norm was 30/40 class size. We seemed to get a fine education and made the country what it is today. I do not doubt there is a need for more money. But who is going to manage it properly? Tell me who it will be. Again you will need to convince me. Remember I am the one that wants the city to give the schools at one million dollars. Do the deserve it? You tell me. I will gladly listen. Bob Livesay
Karen LaRiviere April 14, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Bob, When Prop 13 was put in place it fundamentally changed the way the school districts were funded by forcing them to get all their money from Sacramento. Prop 13 limited property tax revenues based on what values were back in the late 70's. Schools are funded based on an arcane formula so that even when home prices skyrocketed, the schools did not see a fraction of that money. Making matters worse, when Prop 13 passed, Benicia was considered a "rural district" so our calculations are exceptionally low, to the point that Benicia is THE LOWEST FUNDED SCHOOL DISTRICT IN THE STATE (Ed-Data). Several of us have met with local State legislators to try and rectify this problem, but we don't have lobbyists and lawyers like LA Unified, SF Unified, or Oakland so we just get steamrolled. Another prize of Prop 13 was that it prevented local districts from being able to pass any kind of parcel tax that would go directly to the classrooms with less than 2/3 of a vote. So year after year, Benicia has to wait to find out what Sacto is going to dole out and hope that it's enough. BEF has stepped in in the last 6 years to plug a few holes, but the whole community benefits from good schools and it's primarily parents contributing to BEF. If the parcel tax had passed, there would have been community oversight, but we will just need to muddle along.

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