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Protesters rally against cuts

Teachers, students and parents protest at City Hall after Gov. Schwarzenegger announces his plan to trim the education budget.

May 17, 2008|By Jeremy Oberstein

CITY HALL — Hours after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed some relief to the state’s beleaguered education budget, more than 500 Burbank teachers, students and supporters flooded downtown asking state leaders to prevent further cuts.

“We want to make our voices heard to show that this is really important,” said Karen Broderick, a parent of two children at Bret Hart Elementary School.

After months of wrangling in the state Legislature, Schwarzenegger released his revised budget Thursday in an attempt to address the state’s $17.2-billion budget gap. Part of that revise includes a plan he submitted to the Legislature that funds education under the guidelines of Proposition 98, which he hopes will increase funding to schools by $1.8 billion for next year’s budget, according to details of the plan released Wednesday.

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In January, Schwarzenegger proposed that $4.4 billion be cut from education when he announced the state’s budget had a $14.5-billion deficit, a number that has since grown by nearly $3 billion.

The news was welcomed on the steps of City Hall, where singing, chanting and vitriol against Schwarzenegger and his Republican Party reigned.

“Our legislators are very much with us,” Broderick said, referring to Assemblyman Paul Krekorian and state Sen. Jack Scott. “But the Republicans decided to say no to any kind of change and any kind of negotiation. It’s not right.”

Standing close to Broderick was a group of children shouting slogans through a megaphone behind a banner that read, “Cuts hurt kids.”

“We shouldn’t cut the budget,” 10-year-old Madeline Weerts said. “We love P.E., we love art. The governor should cut something else. He’s probably a nice person, but he shouldn’t take money from schools.”

Similar rallies were held Wednesday across the state and region, including Glendale and Pasadena.

The show of support from teachers, parents and students at Burbank’s demonstration showed the gravity of the situation, said Larry Applebaum, one of the rally’s organizers and president of the Board of Education.

“This is a real great coalition coming together to make a statement,” he said. “They need to recognize that certain things aren’t acceptable.

Applebaum admitted that minor cuts to the state’s education budget are likely to be adopted, but pleaded with legislators to limit the amount of funds siphoned from schools by making cuts to other areas, such as transportation. Legislators are due to take up Schwarzenegger’s revised budget proposals soon, as the Burbank school district will continue to brace for the worst, Supt. Greg Bowman said.

The district has a rainy day reserve fund totaling about $8.1 million and does not expect to lay any teachers off as a result of the state’s budget woes, but warned that its reserve could dry up if more cuts are not averted.

“Legislators need to hear what the public is saying, that education is our No. 1 priority,” he said.


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