Students from all three Alameda high schools staged a walkout today to protest the school board’s planned elimination of high school sports in an effort to fill the anticipated loss of $4.5 million in state funds for the next school year.
Students and the athletic directors from Alameda and Encinal high schools told a raucous, capacity crowd at Kofman Auditorium that they will push to get the parcel tax headed for a June ballot passed to keep their programs intact. And they said they will head to Sacramento to lobby against a proposed $4 billion in school cuts statewide and suspension of Proposition 98, the minimum schools funding guarantee.
Student leader Rico Cintron said sports programs helped save him from drugs. He said the purpose of today’s walkout was to let students know their programs are going to be cut.
Encinal High athletic director Kevin Gorham said students need to take their fight to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who proposed the state education cuts in his January budget plan. He says he will work to pass a $120, four-year parcel tax this June. But he fears he and others who support the tax will have a tough time convincing seniors and families whose children attend private school that they should pay it.
He said the cuts could lead to lower property values and higher crime. And Gorham said the cuts are impacting districts all over the state.
“We’re not an isolated incident. We are part of the tragedy that is happening all over California,” Gorham said.
Superintendent Ardella Dailey attended the walkout and shared the stage with student and staff leaders. She was talking with student leaders about the cuts at the event’s end.