Schools - April 20, 2011

Budget cuts coming to high school district

by Dave Boyce

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 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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