The state’s budget plan, passed two weeks ago, allows educators to use funds from some previously restricted grants to help cover budget shortfall, but does not offer that freedom for some programs, like one for class-size reduction in kindergarten through third grade.
Challenger Chris Walters, an accountant and former PTA president at Hoover High School, acknowledged his not having a deep understanding of budget nuances but stressed the need for community feedback when making cuts.
“I am clearly not an insider,” Walters said. “I do believe that one of the things that we need to make sure we are doing, as we consider what we are going to be cutting and what we are not, is to make sure that we are having input.”
But California’s plan for flexibility was a farce, said incumbent Clerk Chuck Sambar, who argued that the budget provisions enacted by the state were an attempt to cover up the “tragedy” that reductions would create.
“Flexibility is a wonderful word, but the reality is the budget is a charade and a shell game,” Sambar said.
Incumbents Joylene Wagner and Greg Krikorian argued that the measures offered by the state’s plan would be useful, but that flexibility with increasing student-to-teacher ratios in some grades would help protect all students.
Without the freedom to expand class sizes in kindergarten through third grade, even slightly, “We’re going to have to increase class sizes from [fourth through 12th grade], and would that be fair?”
A question on improving traffic safety drew support from incumbents for the city’s prescribed approach of focusing on the elements of enforcement, engineering and education.