Three San Leandro High School students began the second day of a hunger strike Thursday to protest the fifth year of budget cuts by the school district.
Kayla Ely and Anai Rosales, 17-year-old seniors, and Veronica Mandujano, an 18-year-old senior, stopped eating solid food Wednesday morning, after informing the San Leandro Unified School District board of trustees that they would take the action to demonstrate what proposed cuts would do their school.
The board has approved cuts of $1.4 million for the next year, and is preparing a contingency budget to cut an additional $2.5 million if voters in November do not approve tax initiatives proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The contingency budget also would lay off personnel and eliminate the district's sports and music programs, among other cuts.
Ely, who said she is drinking water, Gatorade and Ensure, said she will continue her hunger strike until "the district admits there's enough money to save our classes and teachers." She said she wants the district to use reserve funds to stave off cuts.
The three students are members of San Leandro High's Social Justice Academy, a small learning community that encourages activism, self expression and critical resistance, according to Erica Viray-Santos, a teacher and coordinator of the program, which has been involved in a project called "Reclaim our Education" to address school budgets.
Viray-Santos said she supports her students, while emphasizing that "this is not a school-sanctioned activity. This is something they've chosen to do on their own."