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Gov. proposes shortening school year

January 8, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed shortening the school year by five days to help lessen the state's budget deficit.Nearly 40 percent of the state's budget goes to education. The governor says the five-day reduction will save the state more than $1 billion.

The proposal would shrink the school year to 175 days, making California one of the states requiring the fewest number of school days.

Teachers and school districts across the state are opposing the move, saying they already have trouble fitting the state's academic standards into the existing 180-day calendar. They say it would take valuable class time away from students.

"For kids that are struggling to even keep up, I'm not quite sure how we're going to get them to recuperate those five days," said Emerson Elementary School principal Linda Acuff.

"Well I'm a teacher so for me it's not a big deal because I could do stuff at home," said Saundra Benson. "But as far as cutting teacher pay, you know, that's not something I'm for."

"Don't cut the schools, don't cut the schools," said parent Michael Marr.

The proposal also creates an issue with teacher contracts. Teacher pay is written into contracts. If Sacramento cuts a week worth of school funding, local school districts will be forced to renegotiate all the contracts.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles Unified School District officials told 2,300 teachers that they may be laid off because of budget shortfalls.