A student look at budget cuts
Imagine a Sonoma Valley High School void of its current sports, special education programs, transportation, senior projects and potentially portions of arts and music programs.
The Sonoma Valley Unified School District is expected to make approximately $2.6 million in budget cuts, not only to SVHS, but to the entire school district, with the first noticeable changes expected to occur in the 2012-13 school year and beyond.
The school district may make reductions not only in the above programs, but also in aspects of schools previously considered to be essential, such as remedial math and English classes, the District Health Technician position, summer school programs and transportation.
The school board has held countless community meetings so far and will have additional opportunity for public input during upcoming, regularly scheduled board meetings. Response has also been sought from students, and Superintendent Louann Carlomagno, with Deputy Superintendent Justin Frese, paid SVHS’s General Assembly (a small assemblage of students from all grade levels) a visit in hopes of gaining student input.
Carlomagno and Frese began with a PowerpPoint presentation in which they explained the intricacies of the state budget, deficit funding versus deficit spending and basic aid programs. Though many students found it difficult to comprehend at first, surface understanding began to show as students received packets detailing the effects of the various potential budget cuts, along with a sheet of options from which they had to decide what they believed should be eliminated.
The immediacy of the issue at hand brought to light the enormity of what SVUSD is facing. Students around the room began to buzz, realizing that every cut on the list deeply affected someone. Fewer school days means less salary for teachers. Less funding for sports means more dependence on Boosters, who more than likely can’t independently run all school sports, leading to elimination or reduction of many sports. A lack of stipends for teachers taking on additional classes (yearbook, Madrigals, ag, newspaper, to name a few) means these programs could potentially be cut. Closing the library more often means a salary cut to librarians and fewer resources available to students. Cutting the Teen Parent Program, Creekside or Gateway Schools means dropout rates will likely increase.
Ultimately, Carlomagno said, “We’re looking at the big picture. We’re trying to avoid complete elimination, so much of what we’re looking at is reductions.”
For now, the community can attend future SVUSD board meetings regarding budget cuts, such as the meeting scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17 at Altimira Middle School at 6 p.m. and continue to be involved in Sonoma’s educational sphere.
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Jamie Ballard is a junior at Sonoma Valley High School.