Education cutbacks called for |

Education cutbacks called for

William Ferchland

Vicki Barber, superintendent of El Dorado County schools, and 57 of her California colleagues could lose their jobs if a proposal released today to revamp California’s government wins approval.

The recommendations by the California Performance Review Board includes abolishing county school superintendents and county school boards.

“I know it will amaze you but we’re not in favor of that,” Barber said.

The board was told by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to create efficiency and cut costs in the state’s government.

Barber, who has been at her post since 1994 and plans to run for re-election in two years, said similar proposals of eliminating county superintendents have surfaced during times of state fiscal crisis.

Barber cited three main reasons for the elected county position funded by the state to exist. They included teaching more than 1,000 students with special education or other needs, overseeing financial matters for local districts and providing academic accountability by training instructors.

In addition to eliminating county superintendents, the board proposed saving money by changing the cutoff date for kindergarten from Dec. 2 to Sept. 1.

Michael Curran, chief financial officer for Lake Tahoe Unified School District, said the kindergarten proposal would cause a drop in state money that funds districts for the number of students it serves.

For a financially struggling district like LTUSD, that could mean more trouble.

“Right now it would not be good,” Curran said.

Curran had kinder words for the $105 billion budget signed by Schwarzenegger on Saturday.

“It’s definitely an improvement over last year, no question about it,” he said.

Curran centered on a cost-of-living adjustment and no major cuts to K-12 education.

Community colleges also received the adjustment but saw their fees increase for the second straight year. Lake Tahoe Community College President Guy Lease said quarter fees will increase from $12 to $17 per unit. It cost $7 per unit in the 2002-03 school year.

The college lost about 100 full-time students last year.

The budget also cut $90,000 from an LTCC program that helps students graduate.

The $90,000 will likely be covered by general fund money. Cutbacks will include reducing hours for tutors and counselors, Lease said, adding he was going to write a letter expressing disappointment with Schwarzenegger’s office.

– The Associated Press contributed to this article

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