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Budget Furlough Means Fall Vacation At San Jose Schools

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School Lunch

Students eating school lunch in a cafeteria. (AP)

SAN JOSE (KCBS/BCN) – Just a month into the school year, students in San Jose have already been advised it’s time for a break.

About 3,000 district employees, including 1,800 teachers, agreed to the furlough, district spokeswoman Karen Fuqua said.

That amounts to a nearly 3 percent pay cut for the teachers and about $5 million in savings for the district, which has lost tens of millions of dollars in state funding this year.

All 42 campuses in the district are shutting down for a week, Fuqua said.

“This is due in large part to the reduction in dollars coming down from the state,” said Superintendent Vincent Matthews.

Closing classrooms and the district’s business offices from Oct. 4 to Oct. 8 will save about $5 million, he said. High school sports however will continue to hold practices and games.

Matthews brushed aside concerns the shorter school year would make it harder for teachers to squeeze the required curriculum into the remaining days.

Districts have shortened the school year just as President Obama pushes to lengthen both the school day and the academic year, a laudable goal education researchers said would need billions of dollars to realize.

“While this would be a very effective change in the way we educate children, it would be a very expensive change,” said David Plank, executive director of PACE, a non-partisan research center affiliated with UC Berkeley, Stanford and the University of Southern California.

Plank said the state would have a tough time finding the money when lawmakers cannot agree on how to close a $19 billion deficit.

“Given the budget turmoil that we’ve been in in California for the last several years, we haven’t even been able to think about it,” he said.

San Jose is not the only school system that decided to shorten the school year to save money. The Alameda Unified School District, for example, has scheduled five furlough days at the end of the school year.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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