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Let’s revisit lowering class sizes for our students

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Our students deserve better. In 2010, the LUSD Board of Trustees raised class sizes for our students in kindergarten through 12th grade. It was done, ostensibly, as a cost savings measure, but also to put pressure on employees to concede to dramatic salary concessions.

At the time, LUSD was asking employees to take a 10.25-percent salary cut. Teachers ultimately agreed to salary concessions of 6.125 percent, but class sizes were not fully restored. However, since 2010, the district’s fiscal reserves have grown each year, with 2011-12 showing an ending fund balance of over $50 million.

Now, in the wake of the passage of Proposition 30, our teachers and our community expect to see our school board begin to reverse the austerity measures put in place three years ago. To the board’s credit, instructional days were restored for 2013-14, bringing instruction back to 180 days. Even with restoration of instructional days, LUSD will continue to operate with reserves in excess of $40 million — more than enough to begin an earnest conversation with employees about class sizes for next year.

Teachers believe that 29 students in kindergarten through third grade, where the most significant and foundational learning of a student’s educational career takes place, is too many. Classes which provide remediation for students in math or language arts, and classes focused on teaching our second language learners must be smaller as well.

As a community, we expect more. Our students deserve more. And Proposition 30 directs our tax dollars to fund education. Join me in calling on our elected school board members to engage classroom teachers in erstwhile conversation about class sizes.

Jeff Johnston

President

Lodi Education Association

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