Local Schools Triggered

Jerry Brown’s Budget Hits Local Schools 012512

“We don’t have the money and we’re going to cut back…” Jerry Brown


In December Governor Jerry Brown announced that he was keeping about a billion dollars in reserve; holding the funds would be “triggered” by budget shortfalls; since the budget planned a bustling economy and instead we have an economy that is spiraling a major global depression. 

The term “trigger” is appropriate because Brown is essentially holding a gun on school kids, particularly rural and disabled kids, asking voters to enact $7 billion in taxes for schools, or the 48th worst school system in the nation will get even worse.  Schools took a hit of over $327 million, though cuts of $1.5 billion were avoided, for the present.

When Brown made his announcement he acknowledged the cuts would hurt, but insisted that making cuts and increasing taxes are the only way the state can pay its bills.  Unfortunately, that seems to be true.

Officials from school districts across the state have rallied to galvanize the public to protest the cuts, because the schools are already being weaned from state money, and teachers are paying for supplies out of their own pockets, and because the cuts to transportation are likely to spur cuts in attendance, meaning the schools are out yet more “seat money” for students.  These shortages are piled on current and future cuts to “Rural Schools” money. 

If Brown wants to measure the effectiveness of holding school kids hostage for higher taxes, it will be the number of telephone calls his office and others get, which in turn are a measure of how effective school officials are at getting parents outraged. 

Local Superintendent Stan Hardeman has gotten the word out, and hopes to inform and perhaps inflame some local residents to contact key politicos.  However, it’s unclear what the long term result of that will be.  Cuts in place now will stay in place, and the cuts will be carried to next election.  Further, according to information provided by Superintendent Hardeman, the cuts would hit hardest next year, and would disproportionally hit disadvantaged, and because it is transportation money which is being reduced, rural kids.

Sierra County schools are struggling in this economic downturn, in part because families can’t afford to live in the county.  As transportation funds are cut it costs more for a family to send a kid to school.  Local families already pay transportation costs for kids.  This is an incentive to home school kids, which would reduce the already low census, and would funnel education dollars away from public schools.  If parents and grandparents don’t support increased taxes for public schools, California’s public schools will be forced to close, or change dramatically.

Below is a letter from Stan Hardeman to our elected officials, explaining the compounded loss to our public schools. 
The Prospect encourages community members to attend the meeting on February 7th at 6:00 PM at the Loyalton Elementary school, with a video teleconference to Downieville.



The Honorable Edmund G. Brown

Governor, State of California

State Capitol

Sacramento, CA  95814


The Honorable Dan Logue

Member, California State Assembly

State Capitol 3056

Sacramento, CA  95814


The Honorable Ted Gaines

Member, California State Senate

State Capitol 3056

Sacramento, CA  95814


Dear Governor Brown, Assembly Member Logue, and State Senator Gaines:


I am writing to object to the targeting of the students in rural California for disproportionate cuts because state revenues are significantly less than anticipated in the adopted 2011-12 State Budget. 


The State Budget trigger will cut all Home-to-School and Special Education Transportation funding from January 1, 2012, through June 30, 2012. Forty-three percent of the students in the Sierra-Plumas Joint Unified School District require Home-to-School Transportation.  Most of the families are unable to provide transportation for their children to go to school.  Many of the District’s families are low-income; many are single-parent or two-parent families who are working.  They do not have the funds or the time to provide transportation services. 


Additionally, all the students who ride the bus live more than a mile from the school campus.  Fifty percent live at least 15 miles away and a few live up to 40 miles from their school.   There are no sidewalks, no regional transportation, and no bicycle lanes along the rural roads, which are mostly highways. Contributing to the hazardous driving is the extreme cold temperature that can drop to a single digit.  The average low temperature in Loyalton from November through March is 20 degrees.  There are no other options available for the students to transport themselves to school.  The elimination of Home-to-School and Special Education Transportation funds would endanger student safety going to and from school.


For these reasons I write to urge you to reverse the targeted Home-to-School and Special Education Transportation cuts that are part of the State Budget enacted on June 30, 2011, and to fund Home-to-School Transportation in future years. 


Thank you for your consideration.



[Stan Hardeman]

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