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San Leandro High School students on hunger strike take protest to School Board on Tuesday

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
San Leandro school district offices
14735 Juniper St., San Leandro

Hunger strike continues for San Leandro High students

By Eric Kurhi
Hayward Daily
Posted: 03/12/2012 03:58:11 PM PDT
March 12, 2012 11:14 PM GMT Updated: 03/12/2012 04:14:40 PM PDT

SAN LEANDRO -- Three hunger strikers at San Leandro High who haven't eaten solid food in nearly a week intend to go before the school board Tuesday to reiterate their opposition to budget cuts.

Veronica Mandujano, 18, and 17-year-olds Kayla Ely and Anai Rosales, all seniors, started the strike on March 7, the day after the school board approved $1.4 million in cuts. The district also has a contingency budget to slash an additional $2.5 million if voters do not approve a state tax measure in November that would bolster school funding.

That contingency plan would further reduce staff and eliminate sports and music programs, among other cuts.

The hunger strikers -- as well as others who have been outspoken at previous meetings -- would like the district to dip into its reserves to hold onto teachers and programs.

Kayla said Monday that she's lost six pounds.

"I'm losing body fat," she said. "That's what our bodies are going off now."

While Kayla hasn't eaten solid food, she does drink Gatorade and Ensure protein shakes in addition to water.

She said she felt feeble all weekend, but was re-energized when she returned to school on Monday.

Kayla isn't sure how long the strike will last.

"Honestly, I don't know," she said. "I'm going to try as hard as I can, try and make a change."

Kayla said she and the two other strikers intend to speak during the public comment period at Tuesday's meeting.

"At least we'll let them know that we're still doing this," she said.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the district offices, 14735 Juniper St., San Leandro.

****-- Patch Blogger, Two Other Students Fast To Oppose School Budget Cuts --****

Size of the district's reserve fund a key issue as emotions run high after years of cuts.

* By Tom Abate
* March 8, 2012

Three San Leandro High School students are continuing a hunger strike they announced Tuesday night to protest the School Board's unanimous decision to issue layoff notices that could eliminate music, sports and other programs.

"I am nervous, but willing to keep going until the board notices how much money they really hold," said San Leandro High senior Kayla Ely, one of the hunger strikers and a Patch blogger.

The two other hunger strikers are Veronica Mandujano and Anai Rosales, also seniors at San Leandro High and, like Ely, members of the school's Social Justice Academy, according to a Hayward Daily Review article.

Before Tuesday's board meeting, Ely had written a Patch blog urging the district to dip into its reserves rather than issue layoff notices to an additional 53 school employees whose departures could shut down all athletic activities, enrichment programs like music, library assistance, counseling and other services.

The size of the school district's reserve is a central issue.

The San Leandro Teacher's Association argues that the district has a 14.5 percent reserve.

School Board President Morgan Mack-Rose said only three percent of that is discretionary, with the other 11 percent is already earmarked for near-term school expenses like textbook purchases.

Issuing the layoff notices is also a tactic by the board to get teachers to continue a set of concessions that could lessen or eliminate the need for the cuts -- but at the expense of maintaining what amounts to pay cuts for instructors who have not had a raise in years.

Another factor that could lessen the need for layoffs is what Sacramento does. In May the Governor is supposed to issue a revised budget projection, and if revenues increase, there would be less need for cuts.

So the three pieces in the board's budget puzzle are: how much to extract from reserves, how much to seek in teacher concessions and how much to expect from the state.

Amidst this the hunger-striking students have upped the emotional ante. As Mandujano told the board Tuesday night, she hoped the fast would show that "like our schools, my body can’t survive with just the bare minimum."

Last October, Mandujano, Ely and other Social Justice Academy members led one of the earliest Bay Area protests to mimic Occupy Wall Street.

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