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Welcome to the 2010 School Budget Cuts Season!

Another year, another round of potentially devastating budget cuts for our Redwood City public schools. This just in, from the School District:

Dear Parent Leaders,

Last year the Redwood City School District faced the worst budget cuts in many decades. Due to the state budget crisis, the district was forced to cut $5.5 million from the 2009-10 budget, including administrators, teachers, counselors, and clerical staff.  Class sizes increased at the K-3 level, and library hours were reduced.  About $5 million more would have been cut, but the federal stimulus package allowed the district to save a number of programs including instrumental music, and the Gifted and Talented Program (GATE), and a number of important staff positions.

The news from Sacramento remains grim.  The state's Legislative Analyst's Office projects a state budget shortfall of $6.3 billion for 2009-2010, and a $14.7 billion shortfall for 2010-11.  We do not yet know the full extent of the impact on our district from this latest bad news, but it is very possible that the state will impose mid-year cuts for the current school year.  If the state imposes mid-year cuts, our district will have to eliminate programs and positions during this school year.

In addition, we will have to cut $5-8 million dollars from the 2010-11 budget.  There is no pleasant way to communicate such bad news, but it is important for you to know the challenges that lie ahead.  Keeping our community informed of budget developments is a top priority, so we have planned a series of interactive community budget meetings for January and February to provide a budget update, and answer questions.

Please feel free to attend one of our regular community forums:

Date/Time: Location
January 19, 6-8PM: Garfield School, 3600 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park
January 25, 6-8PM: MIT/North Star, 400 Duane St., Redwood City
February 8, 6-8PM: Roy Cloud School, 3790 Red Oak Way, Redwood City
February 16, 6-8PM: Clifford School, 225 Clifford Ave., Redwood City

Sincerely, Jan Christensen

It's good that we're starting to discuss next year's situation earlier this year. Typically we go through a very quiet time until the end of the year panic. Last year we faced huge cuts, partially mitigated by the stimulus package, which sadly won't be available next year.

Related public education news

In San Mateo County residents in need would fare worst under budget proposal the San Mateo County Times reports that...

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget would have the most impact on low-income San Mateo County families and others who rely on some form of government assistance, while schools have a chance to emerge unscathed, officials and lawmakers said Friday.

I'll have to see it to believe it. The part about remaining unscathed. Raul Parungao, RCSD's chief administrator is quoted in the article:

"It's pretty encouraging," said Raul Parungao, chief business official for the Redwood City School District. "But we are still proceeding with caution."

Parungao recalled how school districts endured many changes in the fiscal landscape last year after the governor announced his budget plan. Even after the governor signed the budget for 2009-10, Parungao said, Schwarzenegger made a revision in July that resulted in some funding loss for education.

The Redwood City district still faces cuts of at least $4.7 million in 2010-11, according to Parungao. That's largely because the $6.1 million in one-time federal stimulus money the district received will be used up, he said.

I'll keep reporting as more news emerge. Happy New Year!


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