An estimated 20,000 teachers and school support staff in California have been told they may lose their jobs under budget cuts Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed, the state's top education official said.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell said 10,000 teachers, and another 10,000 counselors, librarians, nurses, administrators and janitors have been put on notice as school districts prepare budgets.
Schwarzenegger, a Republican, in January proposed across-the-board budget cuts of as much as 10 percent from all state agencies to fill a deficit that reached as high as $16 billion last month. Among the cuts is $4.8 billion in school funding. He said he won't raise taxes to fill the gap, caused by the loss of tax revenue amid the worst housing slump in the U.S. in 26 years.
"School districts up and down this state are sending out pink slips to tens of thousands of hard-working, dedicated teachers, administrators and school staff, not because our state faces a spending problem, but because we face a priorities problem," O'Connell said.
Tomorrow is the annual deadline mandated by state law for districts to issue preliminary termination notices for the school year based on the proposed state budget. Final notices must go out by May 15.
Since the deficit estimate was revised higher to $16 billion on Feb. 20, the state's budget office borrowed $3 billion and cut or deferred another $4 billion in spending. That still leaves a shortfall of almost $9 billion for the next fiscal year.
'Fix' Budget System
"As soon as we fix our budget system, we can have a 5 percent increase each year in education funding," Schwarzenegger said on CNBC today. "There's no reason ever why we need to cut education like we are doing this year. It's only because of a failed system. It's not because our priorities aren't there and we don't love education."
State Assembly Republicans this week blocked a proposal by Democrats to raise severance and taxes on oil company profits to offset the proposed education cuts.