Budget cuts wound high school campus
Fewer custodians, supplies, increased workloads
Due to the nearly $2.6 million in budget cuts to the school district this year, Sonoma Valley High School is now only able to employ two custodians, as opposed to the nine custodians employed in 2011-12. The two custodians are mainly charged with keeping the campus exterior clean, though they will also clean four classrooms a day. This means that at best, most classrooms will only be cleaned monthly by a custodian.
A month’s worth of trash, debris and recycled homework will accumulate in the same small wastebaskets that were previously emptied on a weekly basis. Additionally, teachers are limited in how much they can clean their classrooms personally, due to a California law dictating that no one can take over a paid position as a volunteer. Since custodial positions are paid, a teacher who does the same duties voluntarily – mopping, emptying wastebaskets – is technically breaking the law.
Several teachers at SVHS, however, have taken to cleaning their classrooms surreptitiously, coming into class early to tidy up or sweep the floors, simply because the alternative is teaching in a grimy, unkempt room.
A few teachers in particular are especially concerned about the collection of dirt and dust affecting students and staff with allergies.
Many of the classrooms collect more debris than usual, given the exceptionally large class sizes.
Other teachers are also feeling the impact as they struggle with reduced resources and time. Several classrooms don’t have enough seats for some of their classes, forcing students to sit at makeshift desks or tables in the back of the room. Other teachers must require students to purchase their own English books because there aren’t enough copies owned by the school.
Linda Dillon, freshman English teacher admits, “It’s been hard with supplies. We receive $17.20 per class for the entire year.” The four-class total of $68.80 goes towards, “board markers, pens, paper, notebooks, bulletin boards, basically anything necessary for the classrooms.” Dillon remarks that purchasing all these supplies on a shoestring budget is basically impossible. “Students have been very kind with donations.”
Additionally, there are eight furlough days during the school year. Not only does this amount to a 5 percent cut in teacher salary, it means there is less time to devote to the requisite curriculum. The time crunch may result in more homework, especially for AP classes.
However, SVUSD is still in a period of adjusting to the lack of funding, so perhaps desperate times can breed new ideas and solutions. In the meantime, students and staff will simply have to adjust to messy rooms, sharing books and more homework.