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3 spring days returned to Santa Rosa schools

It's no joke. Santa Rosa City Schools are back in session on April 1 -- as well as March 29 and April 29.

Sonoma County's largest school district voted Wednesday to reinstate three school days this spring, thanks to Proposition 30 and Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget, unveiled earlier this month.

"School is open," Board President Bill Carle said, announcing the decision made in closed session at Wednesday night's regular school board meeting.

"The result obviously is that Santa Rosa City School students will now benefit from three days."

The move was approved by the Santa Rosa Teachers Association, as well as the unions representing classified and other staff.

Carle thanked the employee unions' willingness to approve furlough days in recent years as the district navigated difficult financial times.

"All of our associations helped," Carle said.

The six furlough days originally built into the current school year were expected to save the district $1.4 million. They represented a 3.25 percent pay cut for teachers. That cut will now be about 1.6 percent.

"The governor's budget radically changed the financial situation. It became a no-brainer," said Andy Brennan, president of the Santa Rosa Teachers Association.

Both Carle and Brennan credited the passage of Proposition 30 in November with giving school district the financial breathing room to return days to the current school year.

Proposition 30 temporarily increases the state sales tax by a quarter-cent and income taxes on the wealthy by 1 to 3 percent, preventing what Brown said would have been $4.8 billion in cuts to K-12 education in the current school year.

Area school districts were directed to build their budgets on the assumption that the measure would fail. Its passage allowed them to reinstate previously cut days.

Long term, Proposition 30 maintains current levels of funding.

"We've got to get these instructional days back. We need the time with the students," Brennan said. "If you are really focused on teaching the standards and trying to cover everything, every day makes a difference."

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield

writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@

press democrat.com or on Twitter @benefield.

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