Budget Changes Lead to Staffing Cuts and a Decrease in Course Availability

Inigo Lintag, News Editor

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   Lowered enrollment rates at UC High could lead to budget changes, a drop in the number of courses offered, and a potential loss of staff.

   Due to a decrease in enrollment, UC High will be receiving less funding from the district. According to Principal Jeff Olivero, “The district is projecting that we will potentially have 93 less students next year. We are funded based upon the number of students we have in attendance, so with 93 fewer students, we are required to reduce, accordingly, the number of teachers that would normally teach those students.”

   “We were scheduled to lose a counseling position and three to four teaching positions but the Governance Team decided to flex and use the budget in a way so that we wouldn’t lose our fifth counselor. But we are scheduled to lose teachers,” continued Olivero.

   These changes in budget and staffing will have lasting effects at UC High in the coming years. “We are offering a few less courses next year. We will eventually be ending our French Program since there are not enough students that are taking it. We also won’t be able to offer AP Art History next year,” explained Olivero.

   “We will be shifting which classes we offer based upon what students are choosing to take. The loss in staffing is also relative to what kids are signing up to take and not take,” clarified Olivero.     

    According to History and Psychology Teacher Eduardo Hernandez, “The budget is simple math. If you don’t have the students to support the teachers, then you have to let teachers go.”

   Newer teachers at UC High will be most affected by these budgeting changes. “So, if we had to lose, let’s say, a science teacher, you would have to look at who’s the least senior, in terms of years, and they’re the ones that have to be released because it’s based on seniority,” explained Olivero.

   According to Olivero, “Some of the teachers that we are losing may not have been back anyway because they’re on a ‘leave replacement contract’ — which is a one-year contract with the district — so regardless of what happens they may or may not be back because of that.”

   “Other teachers that have tenure or higher status positions may not be back because they are the least senior teachers on staff, in that particular teaching area,” Olivero added. In other words, a teacher may have been teaching for 12 years, but if all of the other teachers in that teacher’s subject area have taught for a longer period of time, that 12-year veteran would have to move to another school.

   The decrease in enrollment rates could be the result of new district policies. According to Hernandez, “Everybody needs to ask ‘Why is the student population declining?’ and ‘What is it that is going on?’”

   According to Olivero, “The loss in students could have an impact in future years because the district is not allowing us to open up and invite more choice students in. They are limiting that number.”

   According to Freshman Zachary Patterson, “We have a choice program that actually allows students to come into our school in larger quantities, and there are so many students that want to go to our school, but yet the district is limiting and capping the amount of students we can actually bring in and we as the students have to suffer.”

   “The number of students coming up from Standley is also shrinking because they too aren’t able to offer more choice options for parents and families wanting to go to their school. We could end up seeing UC High enrollment drop to sixteen hundred in the next couple of years,” stated Olivero.

   Though these new policies were put in place to encourage students to attend their local high schools, they may have negative effects on the students. Hernandez explained, “Imagine you lived across the street from Lincoln High School but you decided ‘I don’t want to go to school there… they don’t offer classes that I want to take there…’ but [you’re] still forced to go there.”

   “We have a good school, we have students that want to come here to get a better education and yet they are being limited and because of that, we all struggle. I don’t think that it is fair at all and I think that the district should reassess that policy,” Patterson explained.

   Laws made decades ago prevented districts from forcing students to go to a specific school. Hernandez continues, “We went away from that in the 1950s and ‘60s in the court case Brown v. Board of Education… but it seems to me that we might be going back.”

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