Gov. Jerry Brown's state budget proposal drew positive reactions from school officials in local elementary, middle and high schools. However, representatives from the Foothill-De Anza College Community College District, as well as from the Community College League of California, were far less enthusiastic.
While the governor announced that primary and secondary schools would not be cut under his plan, community colleges, along with both state university systems, will take cuts of $400 million and $500 million respectively.
Brown has been nothing if not blunt in his attempt to slash $12.5 billion in state spending, saying there would be lots of ugly cuts, with on exception.
"Schools have borne the brunt of spending reductions in recent years, so this budget maintains funding at the same level as the current year," Brown said in a press release.
Donna Campbell, president of the teachers union in the Mountain View Whisman School District, said she was pleased with the announcement.
"If he can get through this budget crisis without any additional cuts that would be absolutely fabulous," Campbell said.
Scott Lay, president and CEO of the Community College League, acknowledged Brown for his forthrightness, but nonetheless insisted that the League will resist the proposed cuts of $400 million to community colleges in California, which he said were unfair.
"This will have the effect of reducing math and science classes, particularly at our colleges serving the most vulnerable students," Lay said. The League hopes to help "rework this proposal so that we can focus on the important task of informing the public of the impact of the overall balanced approach the governor has identified," he said.
If the proposed budget were to be implemented without changes, Foothill-De Anza would stand to lose about $10.9 million in funding, and it would force the district to drop enrollment by about 4,400 students at time when the University of California and California State University systems "are likely to further tighten admissions and direct more students to community colleges," said district spokeswoman Becky Bartindale,
In his memo, Erik Skinner, the executive vice chancellor for programs at the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, reminded his colleagues that at this point proposed budget is just that -- proposed. The proposal is built on the assumption that voters will approve $12 billion in taxes in a special June election.
Striking a glass-half-full tone, Skinner wrote that while the cuts come on top of $520 million in cuts to California community colleges last year and that "community college districts are already wrestling with brutal budget choices," if Brown succeeds in moving the state toward a balanced budget, "it may be worth the pain."
"It's difficult to use the words happy and budget in the same sentence," said Craig Goldman, superintendent of the Mountain View Whisman School District. "But we are all relieved that (the governor) did not propose mid year cuts for 2010 to 2011 and we're cautiously optimistic that we'll have a flat budget for next year. At the same time, because the budget is dependent upon a special June election, we really can't approach next year with any sense of confidence."