California's public schools could see as much as a month of classroom time slashed from the calendar if voters reject a plan to raise taxes in November.
Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed giving school districts the option of cutting up to 15 days from the school year if voters reject his proposed income and sales tax initiative. The significantly shortened year would help offset a multibillion-dollar automatic midyear cut that would be implemented upon rejection of the taxes.
Districts statewide already have the option of cutting five days from the 180-day school calendar in order to reduce costs, and the proposal for three more weeks would be in addition to that. Public schools would take the biggest hit if the taxes fail, as nearly $5.5 billion out of the $6 billion in automatic cuts would come from their budgets under the governor's plan.
Brown on Tuesday noted that the Legislature would ultimately decide what the so-called "trigger cuts" would entail, but he said that giving schools such an option is the only way to deal with the uncertainty.
"I'm doing the only thing that can be done, and that is assume the taxes and put in the trigger cuts," Brown said after making a pitch for his tax plan to a gathering of the California Chamber of Commerce. "Is it the best way? It's the only way that I can see going forward."