Our View: Saving schools a tax plan worth considering

Our View
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This past week students from around the state rallied at the Capitol to protest additional cuts to education. Sierra College student Morgan Leskody and professor Megan Seely were among the faces in the crowd of about 4,500 supporters who said no to cuts and yes to Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax-extension plan. Leskody is a Sierra College student who also works full-time while undertaking the responsibilities of two internships. She said she’s worried about more cuts to schools and paying for it as she continues her education next year at a four-year California State University. Her worries are based on the harsh realities schools face. California public schools, whether a four-year university or a local elementary school, are living with very real and damaging cuts as it is. A good education has long been touted as the key to a healthy economic future for any area. Right now, that education is being compromised. For that reason alone, taxpayers should consider Brown’s plan seriously should it make its way onto a June 7 ballot. And in return, our elected leaders need to take big steps to ensure that public money is well spent. The Journal and Gold Country Media’s sister papers in Placer County have written many stories about the budget cuts local school districts are taking. Placer Union High School District is looking at making $4.5 million in cuts if the tax extension plan doesn’t go through. Auburn Elementary is facing a similarly bleak outlook. Up the freeway, Colfax Elementary School District is cutting three teaching positions, their P.E. teacher and plans to reduce nursing and administrative services. In South Placer County, Rocklin Unified School District issued 23 pink slips to staff this month. Our public schools cannot take any more hits. It’s understandably not a desirable idea to continue paying taxes at their current level, especially when families and individuals are living on less and paying more for everyday needs, but in this case it looks necessary. In turn with asking taxpayers to continue five years of tax extensions, Brown should make strides to limit the level of bureaucracy in all levels of government, especially education. He seems to be doing that and leading by example. When a little more than half of the state’s general fund goes to education, and yet on the local level schools are floundering, it’s right to question where is it all really going? Stories about university bureaucrats complaining about cutting six-figure pensions point to a misallocation of funds. Today’s circumstances show that more than ever more of the money needs to go into the classroom. Whether that is for new computers or money for local districts to hire a few additional teachers so classroom sizes don’t stay in the 30- to 40-student range. There are many concessions Californians are going to have to make to balance the state’s multi-billion-dollar deficit. Taxpayers could possibly be more persuaded to get on board with extending taxes if they know the money will be well spent on public services. Education should be among taxpayers’ highest priorities when it comes to deciding how they want their money spent. With Brown putting a viable plan out there to keep schools functioning, it’s something worth considering.