Just hours after delivering the state of the state address in Sacramento, Gov. Jerry Brown brought his message to Burbank Wednesday, meeting with several dozen local educators at Bret Harte Elementary School to discuss how his budget proposal would affect education on the ground level.
Brown spent about 20 minutes with Burbank Unified administrators providing an exchange that participants described as warm and frank.
“It was a good meeting,” Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa said. “He sat down around the round table with about six or seven of us. It was a very intimate conversation. He was very open and honest.”
The governor asked the educators for feedback on his budget proposal, Carrizosa said, which includes putting tax increases on the November ballot.
“We did express concerns over the tax initiative being the saving grace of public school funding, and that if the taxes don't pass, that schools might experience additional cuts,” Carrizosa said. “We are nervous about that and we shared that with him.”
The remainder of the nearly two-hour visit was spent with about 40 teachers, all Burbank Teachers Assn. representatives from their respective school sites. The conversation touched on everything from lack of funding for public education to excessive standardize testing, teachers reported.
“He said it was his job to light a fire under the populace demanding that we do need to throw money at the schools because it takes up a lot of the budget, but rightly so,” said Debra Luck, who teaches first grade at Washington Elementary School.
Others said that they found Brown to be well versed on education issues, and open to taking suggestions.
“It is nice to be listened to, I felt that he really did do that,” said Brad Frank, who teaches at John Muir Middle School.
Speaking to the media following the meetings, Brown said that he is sensitive to the resources that school districts and educators have lost in the economic downturn.
“I just sat with some teachers, and they are telling me their class sizes have never been larger, they can't even get overhead projectors,” Brown said. “People are feeling the effects of what the legislature did last year.”
His proposed tax hike is half of what was in place in 2010, the governor noted, added that he is ready to get California back on the move.
“Let the people decide and I will try and make government work in the best way that I can,” he said.
-- Megan O'Neil, Times Community News