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Millions of dollars in the red, Morgan Hill schools announce staff cuts to fight budget shortfall – The Mercury News


Millions of dollars in the red, Morgan Hill schools announce staff cuts to fight budget shortfall – The Mercury News

In response to a multi-million dollar budget shortfall, the Morgan Hill Unified School District has announced a series of cuts to school staff. While the district claims that these cuts are designed to have minimal impact on students, Morgan Hill teachers and parents argue that they could lead to larger class sizes and reduce much-needed resources for students and teachers.

At a recent school board meeting, district staff shared documents predicting a shortfall of more than $6 million dollars for the current school year, projected to rise to around $10 million by 2026-2027. Officials blamed the shortfall on statewide budget cuts to education and the depleting of emergency COVID funds, which buoyed budgets in previous years.

To fight back the deficit, the district has begun a series of cost-cutting measures expected to save $5.5 million by making various spending cuts.  These include a 10% cut to discretionary spending, not filling vacant positions, and reducing staff with layoffs and by combining positions. The district expects to lose around 26 of the current 927 salaried employees, with some assistant principals, academic counselors, and certain specialized teaching positions on the chopping block. Four employees have received lay off notices.

“Our top priority is to minimize the impact … on our students and classrooms,” said superintendent Carmen García in a statement. “We remain dedicated to providing the best possible education for each and every student in our district, each and every day.”

However, Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers expressed concerns that the cuts would result in “increases in class sizes and caseloads … and less supports available for students and teachers at all levels” in a statement. “We are hopeful that the District and Board will look into other possible areas of budgetary reductions in order to save these vital positions and educators that work daily at our schools and in our classrooms to support the learning of our students.”

When asked if class sizes would increase, district spokesperson Lanae Bays responded that “it all depends – there are a lot of variables that we balance,” but noted that they do not plan to eliminate classes.

Several parents also joined together to express discontent with the coming cuts, including by forming a petition asking the district to explore other potential budget cuts – which had 328 signatures as of Wednesday morning.

“My ask is [for the district] to go back and figure out a better plan that minimizes impact to students,” said Anahita Yazdi, whose son attends school at the district and who started the petition. She called for the cuts to be concentrated with “high-earning district staff.” “The first round of cuts should be from where it’s the farthest removed from students.”

The school district noted that “management positions” made up over $1.2 million dollars of the budget cuts.

The finalized budget for the 2024 academic year is set to be adopted this June.

Yazdi said that she plans to keep pushing for the changes, hoping at least to see an impact report detailing how the cuts will affect the school system. “We’re here to stay. Our children are gonna go to these schools for 12 years,” said Yazdi. “We all have skin in the game.”

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