Recession could take smallish bite at Woodside High
It will be (school) business as usual at Woodside High School in the fall, financial crisis notwithstanding.
"From the student's perspective, they won't know the difference," Principal David Reilly said in an interview. "In fact, they'll be scratching their heads about how we're offering more classes."
New classes for next year include anthropology, world cinema, conceptual chemistry, advanced placement European history, and robotics and engineering technology. Physics will be opened up to ninth-graders to help them prepare for the robotics program, he said.
Depending on enrollment, teaching staff of 108 will be right around the same number in 2009-10, he said. Support staff of 53 may drop "a little bit," but the focus will be on keeping cuts from impacting classrooms. "Anyone who's not doing that shouldn't be in the game, quite frankly," he added.
Class size is set at 27.5 students per teacher, he said. If enrollment drops enough, it can force layoffs.
The school will lose a couple hundred thousand dollars, about 2.5 percent of its budget, for the coming school year, he said, as will all the comprehensive high schools in the Sequoia Union High School District, including Menlo-Atherton.
"The students will not see the difference, but many of the staff members and volunteers will have to do more with less," he said in an e-mail. "Given the spirit of my staff, I know that we will rise to the challenges set before us; however, if we are looking at deeper cuts in the years ahead, there will be a breaking point, and our children will pay the price."
On the other hand, Mr. Reilly said he is considering reducing class sizes in areas where student performance is trending downward, particularly in English classes. The school's foundation, which often provides funds for class size reduction, "likes the idea," he said.
Asked if donations to the school have fallen off, given the recession, he acknowledged a "little bit" of a drop. "I have been surprised," he said. "They're certainly not giving at the same level that they have in the past, but all in all, the support is there."