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PTA seeks capitol gains

April 21, 2005

Michael Miller

Nine Newport-Mesa PTA members joined a delegation of Orange County

parents Wednesday in flying to Sacramento to voice educational

concerns to state officials.

The 82-member group, organized by the Fourth District PTA, planned

to spend two days in the capitol talking with state senators and

assemblymen about the increasing budget problems in California's

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public school system.

The PTA district, which covers Orange County and parts of Los

Angeles County, brings a coalition of parents to Sacramento every

year.

At the John Wayne Airport on Wednesday morning, participants

gathered in the Southwest Airlines terminal with signs and buttons

protesting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's handling of state education

funds.

"We want parents to be more aware of what's going on and more

involved in advocacy," said Patty Christiansen, vice president of

legislation for the Harbor Council PTA. "That's what this trip is all

about."

Along with Christiansen, the other Newport-Mesa parents on the

trip included Stacy Lemoine, Kay Davis, Lisa Boler, Michele Graham,

Andy Simonoff, Theresa Chase and Nora Lehman. Christiansen said the

group would meet with local assemblymen Chuck DeVore (R-Newport

Beach) and Van Tran (R-Costa Mesa), state Sen. John Campbell (R-Costa

Mesa) and other elected officials.

Top on the group's agenda was the disputed funding for Proposition

98, a measure that guarantees a minimum amount of state money for

public schools. Schwarzenegger reduced funds for Prop. 98 in 2004

during a budget crisis and has not replenished them in his proposed

budget for the next fiscal year, a move many have decried as a broken

promise.

"This year we're going to lobby the governor and legislature to

keep their promise to restore Prop. 98 funding because it's affecting

our classrooms and our kids," said Fourth District PTA president Mary

Galuska.

In May, Schwarzenegger will present a revised version of his

proposed 2005-06 budget. Members of the Fourth District delegation

said they hope to sway the governor's opinion before the May

revision.

"Part of what the general public doesn't understand is that the

governor has not only cut our funds," Christiansen said. "He has

shifted budget items that used to be paid for by the state -- such as

teacher retirement funds and special education transportation -- to

the school district budget without an increase to cover it."

In addition to budget matters, the Fourth District members planned

to discuss a pair of education-related bills currently before the

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