Berkeley teachers, parents, school administrators and elected officials will gather on the steps of the Berkeley Unified School District Thursday night to protest Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed cuts to childcare services.

BUSD superintendent Bill Huyett, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools Sheila Jordan, State Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner will join the candlelight vigil in hopes of persuading the governor not to cut programs to low-income families as part of balancing the state’s $19 billion deficit.

Berkeley’s eight before and afterschool childcare programs serve 1,200 children and rely on $5 million in state and federal government money. If the governor’s May Revise budget is adopted, those programs would see a loss of $3.6 million.

BUSD released $300,000 in emergency funding to keep its childcare programs going through the summer, but the outlook for fall is uncertain.

“The Governor’s proposed preschool and after school reductions came as a shock and hit our most vulnerable population: children in low-income households,” Huyett said in a prepared statement announcing the vigil. “District preschools, and other area preschools funded by these  monies, provide a valuable boost to children as they prepare for kindergarten.”

The protest will be held from 6 to 7 pm at BUSD headquarters at 2134 MLK Jr. Way.

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...