The Santa Cruz City Schools Board of Trustees has changed the venue for Wednesday’s meeting to the Santa Cruz High auditorium in a move to accommodate an anticipated large turn out. The Board is expected to approve a budget for 2010-11 that cuts $5.4 million,  more than 8% of the district’s operating budget.  Complicating matters is the fact that the board must present a balanced budget to the County Office of Education that cannot take into account pending negotiations with the Certificated (teachers) and Classified (other non-administrative staff) unions. After years of cutting “stuff” first,  over 90% of the remaining budget now goes to salaries.

District staff are expected to bring proposals that show cuts to maintenance, Adult Ed, some central office positions and deep cuts to parcel tax-funded programs like small class sizes, counselors, libraries and the arts.  A “work to contract” provision means that class sizes in 7-12 grades will likely rise significantly.  Class sizes of 20 in 9th English and Math are still protected. District leadership has signaled that they will ask for an increase in K-3 classes, currently also capped at 20 per a commitment made to voters via the recently passed Measure P. An early retirement proposal has been floated, but requires significant participation to reach targeted savings. A possible 5-day reduction of the school year, which would yield substantial savings to preserve programs and student services, is subject to negotiation and therefore will not be considered at this meeting.

A strong showing of teachers is expected on Wednesday evening; the Adult school is also anticipated to plea for funding to sustain its programs. Community members and parents will be on hand to advocate for endangered programs and class sizes.

In a recent Eddy poll over 1000 responders ranked small class sizes as their top priority, with libraries, arts and counseling following.

Poll Results
30%  Small Class Sizes
20% Arts
19% Libraries
13% Counseling
10% Full 180 day school year
5% Facility upkeep
3% Nurses

February 10 Board Meeting, 6:30 p.m. Santa Cruz High School Auditorium.  Agenda available here.