Hesperia teachers took part in a statewide "Day of Action" intended to call attention to state education budget cuts that have led many California public school districts to announce layoffs.


The Hesperia Unified School District, the largest single employer in the Victor Valley, receives 70 percent of its funding from the state. And facing a $20 billion deficit, state legislators are cutting, delaying and recalculating funds to pubic school districts, which are then left with their own deficits. Superintendent Mark McKinney recently announced that the HUSD is facing an expected $13 million deficit (the legislature has not yet passed, and the governor has not yet signed, a state budget).


The California Teachers Association called on union members across the state to protest and draw attention to impending layoffs and the resulting cutbacks in curriculum offerings and larger class sizes in public schools. Demonstrations were planned for more than 100 public school districts.


Thousands of students also demonstrated at the state's public college and university campuses on Thursday, expressing anger of tuition hikes and service and staffing cuts.


"We've already taken the brunt of the hits" in last year's state budget cuts, said HTA Tom Kerman at a protest held Thursday morning on Ranchero Road, just down the road from Oak Hills High School. "It's time for them to fund [education] the way it's supposed to be."


"Now we're getting down to the bare bones. We're cutting teachers. We're cutting classes. Children are going to be in much larger classes than necessary," said Yolette Rios, a teacher Cypress School of the Arts who was out protesting Thursday afternoon at the Main Street overpass over the BNSF railroad tracks. "We need the public to call Sacramento, we need you to call your legislators, and say 'stay away from the classrooms stay away from the schools.' Enough's enough."


State law requires public school districts to notify teachers by March 15 if their services will not be required in the coming school year. School districts that don't send out pink slips won't be able to during the 2010-2011 school year, even if their financial picture worsens.


Several Victor Valley school districts have already announced teacher layoffs: Apple Valley Unified School District has sent out 140 pink slips, Victor Elementary School District sent out 126, the HUSD has sent out 94 and the Snowline Joint Unified School District sent out pink slips to 15 teachers.


With March 15 looming, the remaining Victor Valley districts are taking up the issue in the coming days.


The Adelanto Elementary School District school board is expected to consider cutting 17 teaching positions if the district is unable to win sufficient concessions from employee bargaining groups.


The Helendale School District school board will consider laying off three teachers.


Only teachers are represented on the initial list of job cuts for most districts, since other employees legally must only receive a 45-day notice that their services will not be required in the coming school year.


The Lucerne Valley Unified School District has announced that they will have non-teacher cuts absorb any needed layoffs.


The only school district in the Victor Valley with increasing enrollment -- the Victor Valley Union High School District -- has announced that their district will not lay off any employees for the 2010-2011 school year.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star