By Nick Veronin
Local high schools will have to absorb $2.8 million in budget cuts in the coming year. Students in the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District won't have as much help preparing for exit exams, and may find fewer opportunities for sports with the 2010-11 budget unanimously approved by the high school board.
District officials said the budget is slightly smaller than last year's budget.
California's funding cuts to education, falling tax revenue, rising district health care costs and an anticipated influx of students were among the reasons the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District budgeted for a total expenditure of $47.2 million over the 2010-11 school year, about $700,000 less than the $47.9 million it spent last year, said Joe White, associate superintendent of business services for the district.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is attempting to close a $19.1 billion budget gap by making $12.4 billion in cuts in government services and grants statewide. As a hefty portion of those cuts find their way into public schools, directly or indirectly, districts across the state are scaling back programs, upping class sizes and cutting teachers and staff.
White said that the district has responded by making about $2.8 million in cuts.
According to Steve Hope, the district's associate superintendent of personnel and technology, the $2.8 million in cuts were spread throughout the district. Office positions were eliminated, empty positions were left unfilled, dedicated exit exam courses were cut at each high school, and the superintendent's annual budget was reduced.
A course to help teachers at both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools set up their class websites was also eliminated, Hope said.
Hope said that teachers did not receive a general salary raise, but that individual instructors are eligible for a pay increase for years served or continuing post-graduate education. He also said that the number of teachers serving in the district would stay the same, although some teachers have been replaced.
"The students should not feel any differences in the classroom because of those reductions," Hope said.
Outside of the classroom may be another story. Students who participate in sports or extra-curricular activities may notice that there aren't as many coaches and special instructors on staff next year. Teachers, Hope said, are most likely to feel the squeeze.
"Given the reductions we've done so far, teachers and staff will notice reduced support services and response time to requests. Things won't get fixed as quickly," he said.
The district received a donation of $700,000 from the Mountain View Los Altos High School Foundation to help with next year's budget, Hope said. The district has also dipped in to its Economic Uncertainty Reserve, which was at 5 percent of the total allotted general fund expenditures. That reserve is now at 4 percent, or about $500,000.
"The highest priority for the district is to provide a quality education for the students," Hope said. "I think we've been fairly successful in reducing services and expenditures in areas that won't impact the quality of that education."