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Sen. Wolk talking about budget crisis with 5th graders
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From left, Jasmyne Moreno and Brianna Tinoco, both fifth-grade students at McParland School, were so concerned over Manteca Unified’s budget cuts that they circulated flyers on parked cars last week for people to contact their elected officials in Sacramento. As a result, Sen. Lois Wolk is scheduled to visit their school site on Friday. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

Ask what you can do for your school district?

Last week, Brianna Tinoco and Jasmyne Moreno attended one of acting Superintendent Jason Messer’s budget reduction informational meetings.

According to their parents, Patty Guzman-Tinoco and Dawn Moreno, respectively, the two fifth-grade students at McParland School began asking questions about the cuts possibly affecting 116 kindergarten- through- third-grade instructors involved in class size reduction.

But it was while sitting in a Starbucks coffee house after the meeting that the two youngsters in Elizabeth Bruns’ class began to take notice that every single cut listed applied to every student in the district.

“They decided to take the initiative to do something about it,” said Dawn Moreno.

Her daughter, Jasmyne, and Briana Tinoco were aware that the root of the problem was taking place in Sacramento, with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger still in odds with his legislature in passing the long overdue state budget.

“They put flyers on 200 cars (in the Target parking lot) to contact their representatives in Sacramento,” Guzman-Tinoco said at last Tuesday’s school board meeting.

 The girls were stunned to discover that Sen. Lois Wolk got word of their efforts.

As a result, the elected official representing the Fifth Senate District – included is Tracy, Manteca and Stockton in San Joaquin County; Suisun City, Fairfield, Dixon and Vacaville in Solano County; Davis, West Sacramento, Winters and Woodland in Yolo County; and Walnut Grove and a portion of Elk Grove in Sacramento County – will be in Manteca on Friday.

Wolk has scheduled an invitation-only visit to McParland to not only meet with the two fifth-grade students but parents and youngsters of the district at the school beginning at 1:30 p.m.

“I didn’t think that someone so important was out there listening to us,” the younger Moreno said.

Added Tinoco: “I feel proud that we helped give our school and district a voice,” she said.

Dawn Moreno indicated that her daughter was an unlikely catalyst.

“Jasmyne has always been shy,” she said. “But this has helped in getting her out of her shell.”