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Cuts could stop the music in local schools

Art, music, phys. ed. on education budget chopping block

Posted: February 11, 2009 1:05 a.m.
Updated: February 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Physical education, art and music programs could be cut from local schools if state legislators act on budget proposals before them, a concerned Stevenson Ranch parent said Tuesday.

Stevenson Ranch Elementary School PTA President Tracey Jones said she started a chain e-mail Saturday with contact information for legislators.

"The only way that Sacramento is going to find other avenues to balance the budget is if people start saying it's not OK," she said.

Meanwhile, local educators say they're trying to figure out how to make more cuts and warn that the impact of planned statewide cuts to education will linger for years.

"These cuts are going to be deep and long-lasting when they happen," Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger said.

Judy Umeck, president of the Saugus Union School District board, said board members want more freedom in deciding how to spend state funds.

She joined Jones in calling for parents to ask legislators to pass a budget that preserves education funding.

"If you don't educate the kids now, you're not going to have an educated Congress in 10, 20 years," Jones said.

The California Teachers Association staunchly opposes increased class sizes, which would allow schools to lay off teachers.

"Smaller classes mean students are getting more valuable one-on-one attention from teachers - leading to higher academic performance," David A. Sanchez, CTA president, said in a statement.

"At a time when California's classrooms are already the most crowded in the nation, eliminating class-size reduction would condemn our youngest students to even more overcrowding.

"We know voters strongly support smaller class sizes so we're mobilizing them to pressure lawmakers to protect this valuable program."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders from both parties met for about two hours Sunday before the governor left for Idaho to attend the winter games of the Special Olympics.

The Senate leader, Democrat Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, said he hopes for a vote this week on a state budget, even though Republicans have yet to agree to tax increases.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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