Deep cuts slated for Westwood School District
Westwood High has dropped an enrollment bracket in the small schools formula this year losing $85,000 and expects to drop another bracket next year. Enrollment at Fletcher Walker Elementary has dropped by 25 students this year. It receives about $7,000 per pupil annually for average daily attendance.
The best estimate is that revenue for the 2008-09 school year will drop by $380,000, said Bietz.
As a result, the district issued 5.5 layoff notices to certificated staff March 15. The contract for one probationary teacher will not be renewed at the high school and four teachers at the elementary school will most likely be laid off. Bietz said three of the teachers have requested hearings to appeal the decision made by the Board of Trustees. In addition, funding for a half-time counselor is no longer available so this position will be eliminated.
There will be additional layoff notices issued May 15 for classified employees because funding bases that have supported their position have been reduced. These positions could include staff from the cafeteria, office and custodial services as well as instructional aides.
“Since 1972, this is the worse budget year that education in California is facing, so it is going to be a difficult coming year if things don’t improve for us,” said Bietz.
To reduce the number of teachers, the board of trustees decided not to staff the alternative schools that include the Westwood Community Day School and Red River Community Day School. Although alternative education has a special source of funding, these schools cost the district an extra $75,000.
“We are spending more money in running those schools than the district receives from the state to do so,” explained Bietz.
The alternative schools will not be closed but the district will see whether or not the services are needed in the future or may find other ways to offer the services.
In addition to discontinuing staffing at the community day schools, classes for the upper grades will be combined to a 4-5, 5-6 and 6-7-grade split rather than a separate class for each grade level. The classes will be combined based on the ability levels of the students.
“The people impacted were not just the ones that were in those assignments. We have to do staff reductions based upon strength of credential and the seniority schedule,” said Bietz.
Each school in the district has a different funding source, explained Bietz. The high school is on the small schools formula, the elementary on ADA, the community day schools receive funding from the state on another formula as does the continuation school.
Therefore, a few of the more recently hired instructors at the high school will remain in their positions. These include the ag and business teachers.
Also, the music program will stay intact and art will continue to be run through the Regional Occupation Program.
“The board’s decision was not to eliminate any of those elective services because they still want to offer the kids in the community as many opportunities as possible in the elective area outside the academics,” said Bietz.
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