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School Staffers Protest Cuts
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Normal 0 0 1 46 264 oakdale leader 2 1 324 11.1282 0 0 0 Scenes like this were familiar around Oakdale Joint Unified School District campuses on Thursday, March 4 as teachers and staff wore black clothing and decorated their vehicles with black balloons and signs, participating in a statewide “day of action” opposing state budget cuts to education. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader
Teachers and school employees in the Oakdale Joint Unified School District showed up to school on the morning of Thursday, March 4 wearing black clothing and decorated their cars with black balloons and signs. Banners also hung along school fences and walls, and flyers were distributed to show parents and passersby their opposition to statewide budget cuts to education. “Budget Cuts Don’t Heal,” “Quality Education Is Priceless,” and “Save Our School” were some of the slogans that were posted around the campuses.

The California Teachers Association mobilized the “day of action” statewide. Locally, members of the Oakdale Teacher’s Association, which represents certificated employees, and the local California School Employees Association Chapter #830, which represents classified school employees, joined together to support each other.

CSEA Chapter #830 President Mark Mutoza said that he’s concerned that people don’t realize that all school employees’ jobs are being affected by the budget cuts. He said that much of the news coverage only talks about teacher layoffs.

“We’re getting affected just as much as the teachers are,” Mutoza said. “…The cuts aren’t just to teachers only. It’s to all of us. All of us are affected by it.”

Mutoza said that the teachers teach, but there are also many other employees that keep the schools running and keep them clean and sanitary.

“We’re the ones that maintain (the schools). Transportation gets the kids to school. There are teacher’s aides, secretaries…” he said.

Mutoza added that he’s expecting that there will be layoffs, but hopes the teachers union and the school employees union are able to stand together and even be willing to take pay cuts across the board to save jobs. He said that they both need each other and should fight the cuts as a team.

At the recent OJUSD school board meeting, OTA President Linda Kraus spoke and acknowledged that all district employees have taken a one-and-a-half percent decrease in pay, but said that if the district would cut administrative costs, it could, perhaps, save one more job. (See related school board story).

According to the CTA, it’s estimated that the total pink slips issued for educators statewide is now about 18,000 — and rising, as the March 15 deadline for layoff notices looms. The California public school system has seen $17 billion in cuts over the past two years, equaling nearly $3,000 per student.

“These are the largest cuts our students have seen since the Great Depression and they will hurt a generation of students, robbing them of the future they deserve,” said CTA President David A. Sanchez. “Now the governor is proposing $2.5 billion in additional cuts — and wants to renege on an agreement signed into law last summer to repay schools more than $11 billion they are owed. It’s time to stop the cuts, have everybody start paying their fair share and start changing the conversation about additional revenues for our public schools and California’s future.”

Kindergarten through twelfth grade schools have seen 60 percent of the state budget cuts and California is now ranked 46th nationally in per-pupil funding.