CUSD to Davis: Stop the cuts

At the same Jan. 16 meeting where it eyed reports of an incredibly shrinking budget, the Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees voted to send a message to Gov. Gray Davis to hold back from trimming the state budget on the backs of schools.

The self-named “education governor"—who just last year passed along an unexpected $6.6 million to the CUSD—has fallen from grace among school types as he plans for more than $843.5 million in mid-year cuts to kindergarten through 12th-grade schools statewide. If the state Legislature agrees, it would mean the loss of about $850,000 the CUSD was already counting on for 2001-02.

Superintendent Scott Brown said it is “a terrible, distressing surprise that Gov. Gray Davis would propose taking money back in the middle of the year.”

“It will exacerbate our budget predicament for the spring,” said Brown, who hopes the collective voice of school districts statewide will convince Davis to minimize “the punch” of the cuts. “We’re happy just to control our losses at this stage.” The CUSD’s annual budget is about $85 million.

The board voted unanimously to approve a resolution denouncing the cuts.

“These unprecedented mid-year budget reductions have never before been required of our school districts, even in the most difficult financial times, and will be very difficult and challenging for our local public schools, given that more than half the school year is over and we face many unavoidable fixed costs and expenses for the year,” reads the document, which is based on a sample resolution drafted by the Association of California School Administrators and the California Association of School Business Officials.

Trustee Donna Aro said she’s at the point where civil disobedience sounds like a good idea. "I’m certainly willing to camp out" on the governor’s doorstep, she said, asking anyone listening who has a personal connection to elected officials to please let the board know. "What’s called for is something a little more strident."