Hoisting signs that read “Flunk the Budget” and “Classrooms Come First,” an army of educators, students and parents, sprinkled with some big-name legislators, protested school budget cuts planned by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a Friday press conference at Serra High School in Tierrasanta.

“We know that there are other ways to solve this budget crisis,” said Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego. “Why is it OK to take away tax credits for teachers who need school supplies, but then leave tax loopholes for people that want to go buy a yacht?”

Singled out for attention were a cluster of teachers from Jackson Elementary, a City Heights school where 24 out of 26 teachers received warnings that they may lose their jobs. Camille Zombro, president of the teachers union, pointed them out to the crowd. Jackson was honored this year by the California Department of Education for meeting and surpassing No Child Left Behind goals for three consecutive school years.

State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, criticized Schwarzenegger for proposing the cuts, and lamented his own vote to repeal the vehicle license fee, which he said cost California $6 billion. The state faces a growing budget shortfall now estimated at $16 billion.

“The dumbest thing I ever did was to vote for that,” he said.

EMILY ALPERT

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