Teachers to rally down PeninsulaBy Neil Gonzales
Educators and families plan to form a 40-mile picket line Wednesday from the Peninsula to Silicon Valley, protesting proposed statewide school budget cuts.
"Thousands of teachers and parents will be involved," said Mike Myslinski, spokesman for the California Teachers Association.
Participants will bring out protest signs and rally at street corners all along El Camino Real, organizers said.
A contingent of teachers, parents, students and others from the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District is expected to show up at the intersection with Ralston Avenue.
"We're trying to get everybody involved to let the governor know we're not happy with the budget as far as education is concerned," George Metropulos, president of the Belmont-Redwood Shores Faculty Association, said Thursday. "We've seen a lot of cuts already in our district."
The Belmont-Redwood Shores district faces a projected shortfall of up to $870,000 in the 2008-09 academic year under a state budget proposal calling for cuts of more than $4 billion from K-12 public education. Districts across California have had to consider similar painful financial decisions.
Metropulos believes the miles-long rally will deliver a strong message to the state's lawmakers. "We want this action to trickle up to Sacramento," he said.
The rally will also feature a CTA tour bus that has been traveling across the state to raise awareness about the potential cutbacks.
The demonstration will coincide with California Day of the Teacher. The next day is the deadline for districts to finalize teacher layoffs.
More than 14,000 teachers have received notices indicating they could be laid off because of the state's current fiscal problems.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's spokeswoman, Sabrina Demayo Lockhart, has said the recommended cuts are "a necessary step to bring our spending and revenues in line."
But Schwarzenegger is pushing for budget reforms to create long-term funding stability for schools, Lockhart said.
Ideas include building "a real budget reserve - a rainy-day fund established in good years for use during years like this one," the governor's office said.
But Mike Radoye, president of the Sequoia District Teachers Association, feels the state also needs to find new revenue sources.
Balancing the budget "can't be done by cuts and cuts alone," Radoye said. "We need to have an answer on the revenue side as well."
About 200 members from the Sequoia group are expected to rally along El Camino Real in Belmont, Redwood City and Menlo Park, he said.
Other local groups will hold down posts in Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno, Burlingame and San Mateo.
"We believe this is the start of a grass-roots effort to continue beyond May 14 and build momentum," Radoye said. "It will continue to address the need to adequately fund public education in California."
Copyright ©2008 San Mateo County Times. Published 05/10/2008.