Schools deal with dwindling stimulus funds 

Larger class sizes, a shorter school year and the loss of programs could come to the Redwood City School District as officials brace for additional cuts now that one-time stimulus funds are running out.

Jan Christensen, superintendent of the 9,000-student district, said although the one-time federal dollars will soon be completely spent — resulting in cuts for the future — it was worth saving jobs and programs for one more year.

“It prevented people from being laid off and saved programs for children,” she said. “It made a difference for this year. It was absolutely worth it.”

Redwood City faces a potential $10 million in cuts. An estimated $4.7 million will need to be cut because of stimulus funds running out and additional cuts from the state level. Redwood City operates on an $80 million budget.

Changes and cuts to the coming year’s budget could include another growth in classes, and elimination of programs and positions.

“The district’s main office will be reorganized,” Christensen said. “And classes could grow to as many as 31 students.”

To prepare for the potential cuts, district officials will begin talks with parent leaders, school counselors and district representatives Friday, then go to the public and parents starting Tuesday.

Although cuts are inevitable, Christensen said, she has four objects she would like to maintain during this process: student achievement, safety, compliance with state and federal requirements, and solvency.

“I’m an eternal optimist,” Christensen said. “We’ll provide a quality education in Redwood City with the resources we have.”

District Trustee Shelly Masur said parents are concerned about what the school campus will look like after the budget cuts are made.

“They wonder what’s going to happen,” she said. “We’re talking about cutting the school year for five days — families need to know if their kids will be in school, how many kids will be in the first grade, and if their children can even go to the library because we’ve been cutting librarians and hours.”

Masur said continuing to provide an excellent education is becoming increasingly difficult as resources diminish.

“The fact of the matter is school funding decreased about $2,000 per student last year,” she said. “That was 18 percent across the state. That is just the reality school districts are living with right now.”

Christensen said she hopes to obtain a list of priorities from parents, teachers and the community before any cuts or changes to the budget are made.

Redwood City district cuts

The public is invited to meetings to discuss the Redwood City School District’s budget and expected cuts:

  • Tuesday, 6 to 8 p.m., Garfield School, 3600 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park
  • Jan. 25, 6 to 8 p.m., MIT/North Star Academy, 400 Duane St., Redwood City
  • Feb. 8, 6 to 8 p.m., Roy Cloud School, 3790 Red Oak Way, Redwood City
  • Feb. 16, 6 to 8 p.m., Clifford School, 225 Clifford Ave., Redwood City

Source: Redwood City

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