Although the state’s pending cuts in education spending remain
uncertain, officials with the San Benito High School District are
already in a proactive mode, cutting nearly $500,000 from the
district budget during the middle of the school year.
Although the state’s pending cuts in education spending remain uncertain, officials with the San Benito High School District are already in a proactive mode, cutting nearly $500,000 from the district budget during the middle of the school year.
Included in the $484,000 in cuts was the reduction in B Schedule teachers, contributing to the elimination of more than 20 sections of classes, which will begin Feb. 27.
“We’re trying to make educated guesses right now. We’re trying to trim back,” said Steve Delay, SBHS director of finance.
Clete Bradford, a SBHS teacher and president of the local California Teachers Association chapter, expressed concern about the elimination in sections and whether it would increase class size. Also, he said affecting so many students’ schedules – what he called unnecessary changes – was not worth saving $100,000.
“We need to really look at how this is impacting students,” Bradford said. “This needs to have as minimal an effect on education as possible.”
Also, all non-categorical budgets were reduced by 10 percent, saving the district $130,000. Bradford said the cutbacks give teachers less supplies to teach more students.
Because figures and projections for the state’s pending cuts in education spending were changing everyday, many school district officials were taking a wait-and-see stance on spending, and Delay told Trustees not to panic.
“We don’t need to panic, we need to be aware,” Delay said. “… No body knows what the bottom line is yet.”
Bradford also expressed concern about the Board’s decision not to appoint a budget committee to help make recommendations about reducing spending. He said a committee made up of teachers, parents and administrators would be beneficial to the district.
As for next Fiscal Year, Delay said he expected zero growth for the coming fiscal year and a budget of 5.5 percent less than this year’s budget of $21 million.
“There will be no new money of any kind,” he said.
Just as Trustees were trying to move past the weight of budget projections, they had to decide whether to authorize $15,000 to replace two heaters for the high school’s pool – money the district does not currently have. Without the heaters, the water is too cold for swim practice or for the swimming portion of physical education classes.
The Board voted unanimously to allow the district to spend the money. Funding may come from a surplus in this year’s fiscal budget at the end of the year or from the mandated 3-percent reserve every district must keep.
Even though budget concerns consumed most of the meeting, there was time to say goodbye to retiring Superintendent Richard Lowry.
Lowry was presented a plaque from state Sens. Jeff Denham and Bruce McPherson by a Denham representative that congratulated Lowry on his retirement and thanked him for his “dedicated service to education that spans over 38 years.”
Lowry was also given a plaque from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and the Board of Trustees. The Associated Student Body also presented him with a bag of SBHS trinkets.
In other business:
Because of inclement weather, construction of the freshman campus has stopped, but the delay allows time for district officials to finalize permits.
The district received a $400,000 grant to construct a filling station for its four buses that run on compressed natural gas. The buses were given to the district for free, Delay said, and will reduce pollution.
Trustees approved the final adoption of a new policy for the education of homeless children. The New Policy 5113 is now required to be in written policy format by the federal legislation “No Child Left Behind.” It states the district shall provide homeless students with access to education and other services necessary to meet the same performance standards as other students.
The next SBHSD Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 19 in the cafeteria.