As California struggles with a $23.6 billion budget deficit,
budget belts are being tightened in Hollister schools. San Benito
High School is operating under a $700,000 deficit and the Hollister
School District has made cuts in its classified staff, including
custodians, health clerks, yard and campus supervisors and
librarians. And the librarians are angry.
As California struggles with a $23.6 billion budget deficit, budget belts are being tightened in Hollister schools. San Benito High School is operating under a $700,000 deficit and the Hollister School District has made cuts in its classified staff, including custodians, health clerks, yard and campus supervisors and librarians.
And the librarians are angry.
“It just doesn’t seem right because the district shouldn’t cut hours on people that deal directly with the students,” said Monica Duffy, librarian at Ladd Lane School. “We have a push to get kids to read, yet we cut the library.”
Ladd Lane’s library schedule was cut from seven hours per day to six, yet the school added a sixth grade this year with more than 100 additional students.
Every classroom uses the library throughout the week, Duffy said, and because of the lost hour in the day, books that need to be shelved are pilling up.
“I don’t think we’ll ever get that time back,” she said. “I think it’s gone for good and it’s a shame because it’s not like we’re being paid that much.”
Duffy works additional hours for which she is not paid, said Heidi Arreola, a volunteer at the Ladd Lane library.
“The problem is the school district doesn’t have their priorities straight,” Arreola said. “I think the funding needs are not being met. They’re not spending money where it’s needed most – the classified staff.”
The Calaveras School library suffered the district’s biggest cut, from being open for seven hours a day to four. The district used a staffing ratio to decide how many hours to cut each position.
“I try to do as much as I can in four hours,” said Claudia Stanton, librarian at Calaveras School. “It’s really hard to accomplish everything that I’m supposed to be doing.”
Books are piling up at the Calaveras library since Stanton doesn’t have enough time to re-shelf them and order new books, she said.
Yet since 85 percent of the district’s budget is spent on personnel and 15 percent on supplies, staff cuts were inevitable given the financial situation of schools, said Alice Flores, president of the Hollister School District Board of Trustees.
It took the school board six months to decide on what to cut, Flores said. The board solicited input from many different people in the district and made cuts evenly throughout the district so as not to harm one area, she said.
“I’m sorry that the librarians are angry at us,” Flores said. “It took us six months to make that decision. We included a lot of people and gathered information from all kinds of sources, but we had to do it. We’re still being able to provide most services then we did in past.”
Flores said she has heard that in January the state will make “very serious” cuts in education and the Hollister School District will most likely have to make further cuts.
The district was expecting a growth in student population this year of about 4.5 percent – the average annual rate for the past 20 years – but grew by only 1 percent, said Dean Bubar, the school district’s director of business and operations.
Funding of schools by the state is based on attendance, so the district had over-budgeted on 4 percent growth, Bubar said.
Meanwhile, students at Cerra Vista School spend less time in the library, whose hours have been cut by three per day, librarian Marcia Morrison said.
“We can’t spend as much time with the kids,” she said. “In the past years they’ve had 30 minutes of library time and we had time to read to every kid and have book talks… Now there’s about 15 minutes, so there’s no time for reading stories or presenting literature or author talks or things like that.”