(KCBS) – Bleak financial conditions are facing California schools after three years of cuts to education, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said Thursday.
He said the $18 billion of cuts have reduced funding for K-12 education by about one-third.
“What has been happening over three rugged, tough budgets has been somewhat hidden from the public because of the valiant efforts of the schools to try to keep things going as normally as possible,” he said.
KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:
Torlakson outlined the magnitude of the problem facing educators, from increasingly crowded classrooms to shorter school years. Many districts have dropped from 180 school days a year to 175 days of instruction, he said.
He said the state spends less per student than almost any other state.
“We’re hovering somewhere around 46th or 47th in the nation in investment per pupil,” Torlakson said.
Dana Dylan, a board member of the California Teachers Association, who joined Torlakson at his first news conference since being sworn into office, said education funding had sunk to 2004 levels.
“Like many other schools, my small elementary school in Siskiyou has eliminated our music and our art classes. Our class sizes are rising,” she said.
She noted that 30,000 teachers have been laid off statewide. The seeds were being sown, she said, for a massive teacher unless something was done to make teaching seem like a more secure career for California’s brightest graduates.
(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)