Summer school faces budget ax 

Summer school would no longer exist or be drastically cut as Peninsula school districts face massive budget cuts for the second year in a row.

Recently, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the state’s deficit is an estimated $83 billion, which means programs heavily relied upon — such as summer school, where students make up lost credits — could be up for cuts.

The Burlingame Elementary School District presented information to its board of trustees that stated funding for summer school would be half what it was in previous years.

According to district documents, an estimated $44,000 was refunded by the state for summer school programs in the past. This year, though, that refund will be only $23,000.

Though the board of trustees discussed whether to hold summer classes for students, board President Liz Gindraux said she was confident the district would find a way to keep the program.

“I’m pretty optimistic,” she said. “It’s something we’ve done for many years. But you never know; we are certainly facing budget struggles like other districts.”

Burlingame cut an estimated $1.5 million from its $20 million budget this school year. Potential cuts for next fiscal year were not available.

Though the fate of summer school in Burlingame is being discussed, only 1,600 students in the Sequoia Union High School District will be able to enroll in programs for the second year in a row, compared with 2,300 students in previous years.

District spokeswoman Bettylu Smith said Sequoia Union has to continue with the limited space because of budget cuts.

“Those that are shy credits to graduate are first priority, then the freshmen who have some failing grades to make up and get back on track,” Smith said. “If the criteria is met we will open it to students looking to advance in classes.”

Scott Laurence, superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District, said a decision will be made about summer school and many other budget cuts, including positions and programs, within the next month.

Laurence anticipates having to chop up to $6.2 million from a $102 million budget next fiscal year. Those cuts would be in addition to the $3.6 million already planned before the governor released his budget last week.

“We’re basically guessing at this point,” Laurence said of the actual cuts to be made. “It makes it very difficult. It’s hard to plan appropriately and professionally.”

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