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August 26, 2009 > Education bears the brunt of budget deficit

Education bears the brunt of budget deficit

By Meenu Gupta

Milpitas Unified School District faces a budget deficit that translates into fewer staff, larger class sizes and fewer education programs. Most of the changes in the 2009-10 school year have arisen because of the poor state of the economy.

"Basically our school district is not going to receive $13.5M which is a huge hit for a school district." said Superintendent Karl Black.

"Milpitas High School's swimming pool will close. It's more than 30-years old, leaks, breaks down and costs the District over $60,000 a year to operate. Besides, we only use the pool for teaching swimming for three weeks. It's also used by the swim team. It's a very large expense so a decision was made to close it this year," he added.

The music program in nine elementary schools will also be removed. The program costs about $120,000 a year. It is an elective program, not part of the regular school day, so the District decided to eliminate it. Children may still participate in a music program, if parents pay $35 per month fee.

"We haven't eliminated athletics but did reduce their budget. Milpitas High School's athletics budget has been cut by $10,000 and our middle schools' budgets reduced by $6,000, i.e. $3,000 per school," said Black.

"It's a sad state of affairs. We had two librarians for the entire District, for all our 14 schools.

We eliminated the middle-school librarian position and now have one librarian.
"The third-grade, student-teacher ratio used to be 20 to 1. This year it will be more than 30 to 1," continued Black.

Class sizes will increase to 30 students for third- and ninth-grade English and Math. Staff cuts include an elementary-school assistant principal, a high-school counselor, a school resource officer, one custodian, some grounds-people and secretarial support.

"We've closed community day-schools and operate out of another building now. It does reduce options for students but we shall still be able to have about 20 students in one class.

Cal Hills High School has nearly 200 students and an independent study program, so some options are still available.

We've also lost many of our summer programs this year. It's very tough when you have to operate with $13.5M less. It's very difficult to make ends meet but we're doing our best to ensure a quality education for our kids," concluded the Superintendent.

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