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Local Guest Commentary: What’s more important? Students or trains?

Local Guest Commentary: What’s more important? Students or trains?

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This month our school district was told to start worrying, because it looks like the “trigger” is going to be pulled on California’s school districts. Six weeks ago Sacramento “balanced” the state budget with projections of future incomes. It has told the schools that there would be no additional cuts unless certain projections don’t come about, then they would have to pull the “trigger” with more cuts.

I don’t think the state could have used a more appropriate term, they have been holding schools at gun point for quite a while! These cuts of course will be sometime in January of 2012. Our budgets of course had to be done in July of 2011; but hey, it’s just the kids we will be hurting when we do mid-year cuts.

We are told that everyone has to make concessions during these hard economic times. We all have to tighten our belts…. Unless of course you are the high-speed rail authority. We hear almost daily how the cost of this boondoggle keeps going up beyond the projected estimates. Yet we are told that this has to go on.

The LAO, industry experts and every peer group review of the HSR have all said that this project is mismanaged and way too expensive. Our state cannot afford the billions that it is going to take to build this project. ( I should say the billions beyond what the Prop 1A bonds are going to give, if we can even sell those bonds and the billions that the federal government is giving.)

If the “trigger” is pulled, California schools will be looking at $1.9 billion in additional cuts, $1.5 billion by reducing the school year by seven days (this can’t just be done for this has to be negotiated with the local unions), $72 million in community college apportionments, and $248 million in home-to-school transportation, which will devastate rural school districts who transport the majority of their kids to and from school every day like our district does. (Figures provided by the June 29 ACSA governmental relations report by Adonai Mack, legislative advocate.)

California is matching the federal government money of almost $4 billion to put towards the high-speed rail. Where is this money coming from? Well, we know at least $2 billion will be coming from California schools.

It is time for our government leaders to decide what’s a better investment for the few tax dollars we do have: a rushed, mismanaged money pit that will have to be subsidized by us the taxpayers, or in the true future of California — our students.

Dias is a member of the board of trustees of the Kit Carson Unified School District.

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