During both their morning and evening commutes on Thursday, Hesperians will see local schoolteachers taking to the streets to protest state budget cuts.
"We're asking the public let their legislators know the effects of what they're doing, the cuts they're making, is having on education, [how it] is affecting kids in the classroom," said Thomas Kerman, president of the Hesperia Teachers Association.
Thursday's protests -- one from 6 to 8 a.m. at the corner of Ranchero Road and Escondido Avenue near Oak Hills High School and one from 2 to 5 p.m. on the Main Street Overpass in the middle of the city -- are part of a statewide "Start the Day for Students" campaign organized by the California Teachers Association. The CTA is attempting to call attention to the degree that California's legislators are balancing the state budget with education cuts.
"We've been taking the bulk of the cuts," said Kerman. "When the state makes cuts, we've taken 70 percent [of them]. ... We've taken $17 billion in cuts in the last two years and now the state wants to cut more."
The Victor Valley's largest employer, Hesperia Unified School District receives 70 percent of its revenue from the state, and the district now faces a $13 million deficit, as the state's deficit climbs to $19.9 billion.
The March 4 protest comes just 11 days before a legally mandated deadline: March 15 is the last day public school districts can tell teachers that their services won't be required in the coming school year. And since school districts can't know what the final state budget will look like by then, most are issuing pink slips to teachers just in case they'll need to lay them off. (Non-teacher employees must be notified 45 days before the start of the school year if their services will not be required.)
The Apple Valley Unified School District has issued pink slips to 140 teachers, the Victor Elementary School District has issued 126 and the Snowline Joint Unified School District has issued 15. The HUSD is expected to issue 94 pink slips in March.
Part of the CTA's message with Thursday's protests is that state education funding it too vulnerable to California's boom and bust economic cycles.
"We don't have any stable, consistent way of doing the funding in California," Kerman said. "We go up and down and fluctuate with the economic times."
Similar protests are scheduled to take place on March 4 throughout the Victor Valley.
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star