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Teachers take to town to protest cuts

By: Cheri March The News Messenger
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Lincoln teachers took to the streets on the California Teachers Association’s “Day of the Teacher” to protest a state budget expected to drastically cut funding for the local school district. Educators from each of the Western Placer Unified School District’s schools gathered at intersections from G Street to Sterling Parkway on May 14, waving signs with slogans such as, “Budget cuts hurt” and “46th in the nation in school funding.” “We’re definitely not against our district – we’re just against state budget cuts for teachers,” said Wendi Foote, a Twelve Bridges Elementary School kindergarten teacher staked out in front of Rainbow Market. As part of this year’s “Day of the Teacher,” the teachers association called on members to rally public support in their local communities. “We’re trying to let the public know the state cuts are going to affect their children in some way, whether we have less supplies, less staff or less office personnel,” said Lari Andrews. “The public can change that if they let their voices be heard. We need their help.” Earlier on May 14, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released a revised budget to address the state’s projected $15.2 billion deficit. In the update, the governor proposed borrowing against the state lottery system to fund education, but teachers were still unclear last week about how the local district will be affected. “My question is, what else is he going to cut?” Andrews asked. “Whenever you cut one thing, something else has to give.” Earlier this year, WPUSD sent out notices of intent to lay off 20.7 positions – including two at Twelve Bridges Elementary, Andrews said. So far, five of those positions have been rescinded. The district also formed a budget committee that has issued recommendations for making up the shortfall. The school board made a final decision Tuesday. Twelve Bridges Elementary educator Daniel Diego is not sure in which category he will be included. “I’m not contracted to come back, so I have nowhere to go next year,” said Diego, who this year taught fourth grade. “Hopefully, this will clear up soon.” Along with layoffs, protesters said they were opposed to the district budget committee’s proposal to increase class size and cut kindergarten aides. “Kindergarten kids need a lot of assistance, especially the ones who are 4 years old coming in,” said kindergarten teacher Cheryl Wall. “Without aides, there will be less one-on-one time with the kids.”