More than 30 members of the parent teacher association for Burbank Unified held a rally Tuesday evening in Olive Park in support of Proposition 38, which proponents said would send $77 million to local schools over the next 12 years.
The rally — two weeks in the making — was one of the first public events to show support of the proposition, organizers said.
Many hope the money will reduce class sizes and pay for school nurses, librarians and programs dedicated to music and the arts, math and science.
“In California, we’ve watched year after year as money has been taken away from our schools, and now we have a chance to do something about it,” said Barbara Miller, president of the Burbank Council
As Miller and a handful of other parents and community members spoke, Burbank school children held signs supporting the proposition above their heads.
Parent David Dobson spoke about the drastic cuts he’s seen at Disney Elementary, where he is president of the school's PTA.
“We used to have 20 kids per class,” he said. “Now there’s over 30. We used to have assistants in all classrooms. Now they’re all gone. We don’t have a librarian at all.”
Former school board member Debbie Kukta — who resigned earlier this year after being appointed the city's interim treasurer — said the $77 million would resolve the district’s $4-million structural deficit that had been projected in the next few years.
If the proposition — which is supported by the California State PTA — passes, the state government cannot touch the money, which means it could not be used to fund salaries or pensions for state employees.
“We have a say in how those monies are going to be spent,” Kukta said.
Sandi Shearer attended the event with Lori Little. Each of them have children attending Providencia Elementary and serve as the PTA president and vice president, respectively.
Providencia students are a minority in the district because each elementary student receives weekly music instruction, Little said, which is more than other students across the district. It has only been possible because of a grant and parent fundraising, she said.
The proposition could alleviate some of the pressure on parents to raise $16,000 — half of the cost of the music program — this year.
“This would be huge for us,” Little said.
Patty Scripter, director of legislation for the California State PTA, said after years of talking about cuts, new excitement has come with discussing “proactively how we can make a difference in our schools.”
“The benefit is local control. [The money] comes directly to the local schools, and it’s under control of the locally elected school board, and we’re going to see the benefits,” she added.
Statewide, $10 billion each year would be distributed to public schools over the next 12 years, according to organizers.