State cuts tax credit for teachers

By Nancy Gutierrez

Though sacrifices have been made, the passage of the 2004-05 state budget will allow school districts to finalize local budgets and will release cash flow to districts who will be looking to pay bills and payroll for the month of August.

Exeter Schools Business Manager Jihad Hemaidan said there was actually a positive impact for schools.

"The state adopted a budget that was very similar to the may revision. If districts followed it they were probably not be impacted," he said.

The positive impacts include an increase in funding for instructional materials, and additional money for deferred maintenance.

The state budget also provides Cost Of Living Adjustments and student growth increases for all k-12 schools and community colleges. It increases overall k-14 education spending by more than $2 billion from current levels. It includes full funding of class size reduction, special education and programs that support schools of greatest need. It restores $200 million to community colleges and money to allow more than 6,000 students to attend UC and CSU schools. The budget protects the integrity of Proposition 98 and guarantees that any money owed to schools under the minimum-funding provisions will be restored. Exeter public schools and other districts rely on the proposition to begin budget development for the coming year.

However, with the passage of this latest budget, California k-12 classrooms have lost more than $9.4 billion in cuts and funding deferrals in the past four years.

"Our public schools cannot continue to suffer losses of this magnitude," said Barbara E. Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association.

Kerr also objected to one provision of the state budget that suspends the teacher tax credit for two years.

"This tax credit offsets the hundred of dollars teachers spend out of their own pockets each year to buy basic supplies for their students and classrooms. They don't deserve to be penalized a second time for providing what the state does not," Kerr said.

"That was one way that the government showed that they appreciate what we do, and to have it cut out? Teachers already feel beat down," said Diane Lemus a kindergarten teacher at Lincoln Elementary School. Lemus has already spent $1,500 since the spring on supplies and materials for the coming school year. Much of the time Lemus spent preparing her room will be unpaid hours.

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