Turlock

Crowell Elementary rally urges support of Prop. 55, Turlock bonds

Crowell School rally urges support of Prop. 55, Turlock bonds

Crowell Elementary teachers take a stand for Prop. 55 and Turlock school bond measures N and O, in Turlock, CA, on Oct. 6, 2016. (Nan Austin/naustin@modbee.com
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Crowell Elementary teachers take a stand for Prop. 55 and Turlock school bond measures N and O, in Turlock, CA, on Oct. 6, 2016. (Nan Austin/naustin@modbee.com

Turlock teachers took to the streets Thursday morning to urge parents and passing motorists to vote for extending education taxes as part of a statewide push in support of Proposition 55.

Turlock Teachers Association members spent about 15 minutes, before school and just off campus, to wave signs and chant, “Yes on 55! Yes on N and O!” to families dropping off students and passing motorists. Measures N and O are Turlock Unified school bond proposals.

“It is such a financial burden on our district to pay for all the necessary upgrades. Without the passing of (the bonds), it would be very difficult to fulfill the need,” third-grade Crowell Elementary School teacher Rhonda Blount said.

“I am a property owner with lots of acres, and it greatly affects me. But as a community member who pays a great deal of property tax and an employee of the district, I fully support N and O,” Blount said as she waved a sign at passing cars on Geer Road.

Beside her, sixth-grade teacher April Welch said passing Proposition 55 was essential for low-income schools, including Crowell. “We want to give them the best we can here to raise them up and give them the best chance at college,” Welch said.

Rallies also took place at Crane Park, across from Turlock High, in northwest Turlock by Walnut Elementary and at other sites, joining with the statewide California Teachers Association effort in support of Proposition 55 and the nationwide Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools movement.

We want to give them the best we can here to raise them up and give them the best chance at college.

April Welch, Crowell Elementary teacher

The Modesto Teachers Association did not take part. “MTA is planning our Super Saturday precinct walk for this Saturday,” said MTA President Doug Burton by email. MTA members will meet at 8 a.m. and embark on walking tours to spread about 20,000 door hangers supporting Proposition 55 until around 11 a.m., Burton wrote.

Turlock was the only area CTA affiliate listed as taking part in the statewide pro-Proposition 55 effort, but in San Joaquin County, the Stockton Teachers Association planned to rally.

Stockton teachers are still in tense negotiations over last year’s contract and have authorized a strike should the district unilaterally impose its last offer of a 10 percent raise over three years and higher benefits. Substitute teachers in Modesto have reported getting robocalls offering $350 per day to work in Stockton schools, more than double the normal rate, and $550 a day for substitute administrators, in preparation for a possible strike.

The Stockton standoff illustrates the difficulty school districts have faced with California’s boom-and-bust revenues. Recession-era cuts were followed by a funding formula based on need – benefiting most Central Valley districts – and bolstered by extra taxes passed in 2012 under Proposition 30.

Proposition 55 would extend income taxes on higher-income individuals laid out in the 2012 initiative to support school operating costs, roughly 80 percent of which go to salaries and benefits. If Proposition 55 passes it would continue Proposition 30 income tax hikes that would otherwise expire in 2019, but would not extend sales tax increases ending Dec. 31.

Our children deserve the best, no matter what part of town they live in.

Julie Shipman-Norman, Turlock Teachers Association president

“Even in Turlock Unified, where we had a healthy reserve built up, class size increased, some programs were either cut or parents were asked to pay for them, (and) transportation and athletics were affected as well. We can’t afford to let our children go back to those learning conditions,” TTA President Julie Shipman-Norman said.

School bonds, in contrast, are extra property taxes that can only pay for school buildings. In Turlock’s case, the bonds would pay for school fencing and security, refurbishing science labs and other upgrades, according to required filings. Measure N would raise $40.8 million for elementary and junior high campuses. Measure O, which includes voters in Keyes and Chatom elementary districts, asks for $48 million to refurbish Turlock high schools.

“Our children deserve the best, no matter what part of town they live in. Let’s keep them safe and show them we value education by making them proud of the environment they learn in,” Shipman-Norman said.

Nan Austin: 209-578-2339, @NanAustin

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