12/29/2020 1 Comment
Bridge Funding measures would allow time to explore feasibility of School District Unification in West County
Over the course of several West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) board meetings and public town halls this fall, it became apparent that the district was heading down a path towards closure of a comprehensive high school in order to balance the budget. While discussions about school closures can be heart wrenching; this particular closure – with its rushed timeline, during a pandemic, and on the heels of significant area floods and fires – struck a deep chord with students, parents and community members.
The potential of a parcel tax for the school district and a tourism occupancy tax to benefit West County fire and emergency services as well as provide funding for a wide range of educational programming gives West County residents a ray of hopeful anticipation. These bridge funding measures would allow our schools to remain open with consistent and robust programming while strategic planning and possible district unification is examined to determine how to best serve our students well into the future. [continue reading]
11/22/2020 1 Comment
Could bridge funding help West Sonoma County Schools transition to an ongoing sustainable budget?
The West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) is facing a financial crisis. The district’s budget reflects an approximately $1.35 M gap between revenue and expenses beginning in the 2021-22 school year; reserves are projected to be depleted by June 2022.
There are two ways to close a funding gap: with increased revenues or with decreased expenses. The district has identified several ways to cut costs other than closing a school. Some possibilities include: eliminating under-enrolled class sections; shifting to the more common six period schedule from the current more costly seven period schedule; relocating Laguna High School to the El Molino campus; and/or relocating the district office to the El Molino campus. [continue reading]
An upcoming decision by the West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) Board of Trustees to potentially close one of our high school campuses has taken the West County community by surprise. There are many who would like more time to evaluate the community impact of closing one or more of our campuses and explore potential alternatives to a school closure. Meanwhile, others fear losing arts, elective, and athletics programming if consolidation does not occur as soon as the start of the 2021-22 school year.
While this crisis may seem sudden, for those who have been paying close attention to the district’s public budget reports, it does not come as a complete surprise. Budget analysis indicates that it is not possible to reduce expenditures enough in the short term to keep both schools open without significant programming reductions. [continue reading]
Debbie Ramirez is the mom of an Analy sophomore and a 2020 Analy graduate. She served as a Trustee for the Sebastopol Union School District between 2010 - 2019 as the district navigated through declining enrollment, increased costs, state funding deferrals, strategic planning, school closure, and campus reconfigurations.