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Chico Unified School District plans for schools reopening

District officials showed parents and teachers three different plans for when students head back to school.

Posted: May 28, 2020 6:02 PM
Updated: May 29, 2020 8:20 AM

CHICO, Calif. - District officials showed parents and teachers three different plans for when students head back to school.

Governor Gavin Newsom's May revised state budget calls for dramatic cuts to education.

The first plan would be to keep things as they are, all virtual.

"Distance learning, are they going to being zooming and in and out and nobody's going to be coming to school," said Jay Marchant, Assistant Superintendent of CUSD.

The second plan is a blended model.

"I'm going to take some online classes and go to school for a couple of classes, maybe for the hands-on classes, and stuff like that," he said.

The third, is the traditional way with total in-class learning.

"70% of them said they want to go back to a traditional model but some of them are coming back and saying well we wanna make sure the traditional model is also safe," Marchant said.

Marchant says CUSD wants their kids safe too. However, the question is what does that look like?

"Are we cleaning the classrooms," Marchant said. "What is that going to look like? Do people have to wear masks? Do teachers wear masks? All those things are going to make it very difficult to happen."

The state superintendent made suggestions about schools reopening which include taking temperatures at the front door and social distancing.

"The challenges with a lot of the proposals that have been made is they just aren’t feasible," said Kevin Bultema, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. "I mean the idea of keeping 6-feet apart in the classroom... we’ve already spaced that out. You’d only be able to get about 10 students in a classroom whereas currently, we have 30." 

Bultema says they’re planning for the worst-case scenario and they’re estimating over $9 million in budget cuts. Along with 90% of their budget in salaries and benefits which means there could be cuts to positions.

Bultema says they’re prioritizing ways to keep cuts away from classrooms, students, and staff as much as they can. However, these cuts will impact their programs in some aspects.

"We’ve added a lot of social-emotional support for students through counseling services that we think are really valuable," Bultema said. "But, unfortunately, we may have to look at making cuts to those areas as well. Just cause we don’t have the amount of money we’ll need to be able to focus on the core program."

Bultema said there is no additional funding or revenue that could help save them. However, if the federal government comes in to provide additional dollars -- cuts could be reduced for education.

The Senate, Thursday morning proposed a budget that doesn’t have nearly as many cuts as the state budget-- rejecting proposed cuts to public education and health care programs.

"I don’t see how they can do that, because there are too many students to break up for every class," said Mike Adams, Chico resident. "That would create three or two classes and I don’t think they have teachers to do that."

"Having more sections of classes it would actually be challenging to hire more teachers," Bultema said. "But that wouldn’t work when we’ve received cuts to our budget."

"Obviously, everything that we have in place right now, we think our students and teachers need to have a good education," Marchant said. "Now we’re being asked to cut up to $9 million to our budget."

Marchant told Action News Now he’s worried about these changes, like wearing masks impacting younger grade levels, not just learning wise -- but also emotionally.

"I know they’re kind of getting used to it now when they have to go to a store when they’re out, but its kinda something you're not used to with someone you look up to or you play with every day," Marchant said.

"It’d be nice to have them back to school," Gary Allen from Chico said. "It's easier on the parents somewhat but it’s a danger too."

"Wearing masks, it’ll be a big adjustment for kids," said Lori Dunbar, who lives near Chico. "Can it be done? Sure but is it going to be the best of all options? Probably not but you know, I think educators find a way to make it happen."

The state superintendent will be releasing guidelines in early June for schools to follow as they reopen.

The district says they’re trying to let parents know their plan as soon as possible so that they can prepare for daycare and other needs.

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