Budget cuts coming to high school district


The local impact of the state's budget crisis is beginning to get serious at local public high schools.

Under the best-case scenario -- Gov. Jerry Brown convinces voters to approve new taxes by an initiative in November -- the proposed cuts of $5 million for the Sequoia Union High School District for the budget year that starts July 1 would include the loss of one administrative vice principal and one guidance counselor for each high school.

Five fewer vice principals would save $773,000; a cut to the district's public information office would save $150,000, according to a staff report. The counseling staff reduction would save $481,000.

Go to this link and page down to Page 11 to see the report. The governing board meets Wednesday, May 4, to consider the cuts in more detail and vote on them.

Lean times look likely to continue. "We're definitely anticipating additional cuts in subsequent years," Woodside High Principal David Reilly said in a phone interview. "I'm growing more and more worried. We'll just have to do more with less."

The Sequoia district is on spring break. Menlo-Atherton High Principal Matthew Zito could not be reached for comment.

The loss of a vice principal at Woodside High would mean more involvement with autistic and orthopedically impaired students by the principal and the remaining three vice principals, Mr. Reilly said.

Other targets for reduced spending include professional development, bus service, adult education, and classes in technical skills at the nonprofit JobTrain in Menlo Park.

Funding for charters

Everest and Summit Prep charter high schools in Redwood City have significant enrollment from the Almanac's circulation area and depend on per-student revenues that are set by the state but paid by the Sequoia district.

Revenues will be lower but by how much remains to be seen; the cuts could be $100 per student or $800, Jon Deane, the executive director at Everest, said in an interview.

The schools have budgets for different scenarios. "The great thing is we're really doing an incredible job of budgeting very tightly," Mr. Deane said.

The charters are light on non-teaching staff, "very creative" in the use of funds, and "very thoughtful" in tapping the existing staff's talents, he said. "We've been running very lean."

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Like this comment
Posted by Thomas Paine IV
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:33 am

How about cutting the school day down to 3 hours? The State needs the money to pay $9 million for High Speed Rail PR firm.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 19, 2011 at 8:44 am

Here's a novel thought -- maybe schools should think about sharing services or even better consolidating districts -- does San Mateo County really need 25+ school districts?

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2011 at 10:42 am

Bob is so right - consolidation is the answer. Someday taxpayers will demand it, until then the schools will cut everything but administration and blame the taxpayers for not approving more parcel taxes.

Like this comment
Posted by don't stop
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 19, 2011 at 10:47 am

Don't stop: consolidate police and fire, too. County wide.

better yet: outsource -PRIVATE, for profit. Ayn was right.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 19, 2011 at 11:06 am

Don't confuse efficiency with profits. It IS possible for public agencies to be efficient without infusing into them the profit motive.

The key is to make public agencies understand that they have a fixed budget and therefore they must accomplish their mission within that budget - even if it means merging with other agencies with a similar mission.

No need to throw out the baby with the bath water.

Like this comment
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Sequoia Union is a consolidated high school district. it is comprimised of five high schools (plus several charter schools - Summit, Everest, EPA Academy)Serving over 8200 students.

While I know there are many "school" districts in on the peninsula, at the high school level there has already been "administrative" consolidation.

It does a STUNNING job putting more kids into Ivy League and Top Tier Schools than most other districts in the state.


Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 16, 2011 at 11:41 am

Thomas, cutting the school day down to 3 hours would require a change in State Law. A 4 hour day would be possible. And, if teacher compensation was reduced to reflect the shorter work day, no layoffs would be necessary. An added benefit to society would accrue from students who choose to use their new free time in productive labor.
The opportunity cost of education in schools is too high. There is much to be learned outside the walls of those institutions.

Like this comment
Posted by Jack for Office
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on May 29, 2011 at 1:25 am

I am for eat what you kill. In other words, if you're not paying your fair share of taxes than you shouldn't be benefiting. But, that's how things are so I am okay with the these wonderful cuts made by Gov. Brown. I hope they keep coming so that the schools can squeeze out the fat. Keep cutting Uncle Brown, it will eventually cause enough people to call for consolidation and really make changes. Too many self serving school districts who are poorly managed and not serving their communities. It's ridculous to let these redundant administrators sit there with fat pay checks pretending to be needed. Than they go into meetings with there yes men/women pitching the world is falling down to keep their gravy train running. You people are fools to let it continue.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 29, 2011 at 8:55 am

This is what unsustainable looks like.

Like this comment
Posted by Jack for Office
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jun 2, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Unsustainabble is when the tax dollars and easy parcel tax dollars and easy stupid money go dry and you have administrators blame everything else but themselves for the shortage in funding...just like their "buddy" politicians. You have educated white democratics pushing to save everyone who doesn't pay their share scrambling to save their white rich basica aid school districts. Now that's irony.

Like this comment
Posted by Leon Foonman
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 16, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Nice to see that Grover Norquist's acolytes are here leaving the usual "we hate anything public" crap.

These are the same people whose parents made sure they paid enough into the public schools so they would be better educated than 80& of the world. Now that they have "made it" and have all those big TVs, SUVs and other material needs, they are opposed to the concept of paying anything out that would benefit their children or any one else's kids.
Their own private greed and selfishness is well suited to the Tea Party mentality of the Republican anti-tax movement. They prefer to send their kids to private schools or charters that are run by the "charter school" tax money re-allocation movement.
Look around people, at your priorities, and think about what it will mean for your kids future. If you are one of the Wealthiest 2%, then no problem, your kids won't have to look for a job, but the other 98% will need to support themselves with an actual job or career. Without the right skills and preparation, they won't even be able to support themselves, let alone a family. Reap what you sew America, you are planting the seeds of decline and poverty by starving the schools.
Better to pay for a good education than to pay for incarcerating the ones who won't have any options....
Who is killing America? The GOP and all the voters who support their oppressors.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm

Yes, Leon, it's all about the kids, right? The only thing you forgot to add was that Republicans want to throw granny over a cliff. Maybe next time.

I can only speak for myself, of course, but my issue isn't "starving" the public schools so I can send my kid's to private schools (like I attended). First, I am a product of the public schools - from first grade through high school graduation. I also attended both state and private college and graduate schools. Same is true for my children.

My issue is the "gold-plated" compensation, benefit and pension plans that our public employees enjoy. Put simply, they are no longer affordable. I just read an article in The Post that said the AVERAGE salary at Sequoia Union High School district was $97,000 a year - and that's for 10 months work (I think the equivalent of $120,000 is pretty good pay by anyone's standards). Other public employees pay little or nothing into their pension plans and receive as much as 90% of their salary and full health care benefits for the rest of their lives.

I do not know a single company in the private sector with those kinds of pay or benefits. There's a reason for that, they aren't market terms and they aren't sustainable. We're finding out that they aren't sustainable when we read about public employees layoffs and shutting down services. THERE SIMPLY ISN'T ANY MONEY.

So we can keep up this charade as we drive off a financial cliff or we can face the fact that our public employee system has gotten way out of wack and needs a recalibration.

Instead of criticizing those who call for reasonable reform, you should embrace it or have the integrity to offer an alternative.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm

In the previous post, I should not have quoted a $97,000 average salary for teachers in the SUHSD without confirming my recollection.

I'll do my best to check on it and repost.

Like this comment
Posted by please do check
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Yes, please do check since $97K is about what a Sequoia District teacher with at least 75 hours of post graduate work and 30 years of teaching experience will receive per their contract.

Contract link: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I am checking but The Post does not post it's articles on line. I sent an email to their editor for clarification.

I did say "salary," but the article may have said "compensation" which would include stipends and incentives. If you read that contract, you know those incentives are quite significant and can add several thousand dollars to a teacher's compensation.

I promise to post when I hear back.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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