Education leaders are off to see the governor

Local education leaders fuming over possible slashed budgets are ready to take legislators to the school of hard knocks today.

Approximately 100 education administrators and leaders from San Francisco to Redwood City will hop aboard school buses and take a field trip to Sacramento today to meet with local legislators to denounce the state’s plan to cut spending for schools. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed $4 billion in statewide education cuts that have forced local districts to consider laying off teachers and employees, eliminate programs and seek parcel taxes.

In the San Francisco Unified School District, nearly 400 teachers and 140 administrators will be given pink slips Saturday as the district faces a $40 million shortfall.

State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who is hosting one of today’s meetings with education leaders, said legislators and administrators will likely discuss raising the amount districts can pull from their reserve funds under state law. Another option is to increase flexibilityto spend earmarked funds on general operations, he said. Both moves, he said, would help with cuts.

“No one’s expecting any miracles on Monday but [administrators] are hoping to get information they can rely on as they plan the year ahead,” Simitian said.

The education leaders originally planned on writing letters to their representatives but decided to meet with them personally once they realized the severity of the budget slashing, said Shirley Martin, superintendent of the Millbrae Elementary School District.

SFUSD Superintendent Carlos Garcia and more than 60 educational leaders from The City will visit Sacramento today, said Nancy Waymack, district director of policy and operations.

“It is important for legislators and the governor to hear about how the proposed cuts could affect schools and the impact they will have on San Francisco’s children,” Waymack said.

The Association of California School Administrators is calling on all districts to meet with their local legislators. Some 500 school leaders are expected to visit Sacramento this year, and about 1,000 California districts face budget cuts, said association Assistant Executive Director Julie White.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Mateo/San Francisco, is visiting at least seven Peninsula school districts during the next few weeks and hopes to meet with each district in the region, spokesman Adam Keigwin said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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