This week’s column – here – reviews how public education in California began to decline after state government was handed the purse strings. The column focuses on the grim choices facing the Santa Rosa Board of Education – but note that Santa Rosa’s situation is anything but unique. Up and down California, big and small school districts face draconian choices because of dwindling state support.

The Santa Rosa school board will make the first round of spending cuts this coming Wednesday ( 6 p.m., Santa Rosa City Council chambers) and decide the rest at its Feb. 10 meeting. If you want to learn more, the district’s home page – here – features the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, a list of the potential budget reductions and public comments on those unhappy choices.
The district faces a $5.6 million budget shortfall in the coming school year and another $4.7 million shortfall in 2011-2012. In the first round, the board will deal with spending reductions for categorical programs.