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March 10, 2010 > New Haven Schools education briefs

New Haven Schools education briefs

Submitted By Rick La Plante

Forced because of the ongoing state financial crisis to make another round of drastic budget cuts, the Board of Education recently accepted a recommendation that will save - for only one year, unless a new revenue stream is identified - the co-curricular and extra-curricular activities that are so vital to the New Haven community.

The Board approved staff recommendations totaling $3.6 million in new reductions for 2010-11, on top of $1.6 million in reductions previously approved for next year. As a result, class sizes will be larger in kindergarten through third grade in 2010-11, and the District no longer will offer transportation for elementary and middle school students.

The Board also approved reductions that provide the state-mandated starting point for balancing the 2011-12 and 2012-13 budgets.

Eliminating stipends and release periods for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities was on a list of proposed cuts for 2010-11 presented to the Board at its Feb. 16 meeting. It would have impacted all athletic teams at James Logan High School -as well as the school's nationally known marching band, color guard and forensics team, among other programs - and co-curricular and extra-curricular activities at other District schools.

Instead, the Board approved a recommendation to eliminate four assistant principal positions at the elementary schools, a reduction previously forecast for 2011-12. It means that, starting in 2010-11, there no longer will be assistant principals at Alvarado, Eastin, Emanuele and Pioneer elementary schools. The District's three smaller elementary schools - Hillview Crest, Kitayama and Searles - have been without assistant principals for three years.

Addressing forecasts that Gov. Schwarzenegger might call for an additional $50-per-student funding reduction when he presents his revised budget in May, the Board also accepted a recommendation that would allow for raising class sizes in kindergarten through third grade from 20-to-1 to as high as 30-to-1. No matter what happens in May, ninth-grade classes will go from 20-to-1 to 30-to-1.

The Board approved issuing precautionary layoff notices to approximately 70 teachers, but Superintendent Kari McVeigh emphasized that the notices indeed are precautionary and that the number of K-3 positions actually eliminated will depend on the May revise.

The number of teachers actually laid off probably will be fewer than 50, Associate Superintendent for Personnel Derek McNamara said, because of retirements and other attrition.

The Board also approved the elimination of home-to-school transportation for kindergarten through eighth-grade students (high school transportation was halted last year), including a reduction of approximately 21 positions from the classified staff. Interim Chief Business Officer Jim O'Connor said some of the positions could be retained, pending the receipt of proposals to provide transportation for the District's special education students.

Mr. O'Connor also noted that the 2010-11 budget would be even worse were he not able to make a one-time transfer of $2.1 million in mitigation fees to the general fund. And, under current projections, $4.5 million in additional reductions will be necessary in 2011-12, he said, meaning eliminating co-curricular and extra-curricular stipends once again would be on the list.

The District also could be forced for 2011-12 to close an elementary school and lay off two high school administrators and one of the two assistant principals at each of the two middle schools. The District also could be forced to adopt a three-day furlough for all employees and sell the Educational Services Center, among other measures.

The recommendations approved do not account for the approximately $230,000 needed to re-open Barnard-White Middle School. The Board, which voted February 2 to re-open the school and February 9 to limit the size of the school to 180 students in 2010-11, voted to re-consider those decisions on March 16.

Also, the Board:

Approved the elimination of approximately 10 full-time equivalents from the classified staff and work-year reductions for 17 other employees, associated with the reorganization of the Special Education and Food Service departments.

Approved work-year reductions at the New Haven Adult School.

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