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'09 year in review, January: Year begins with cuts

State budget crisis hits education

Posted: December 19, 2009 8:02 p.m.
Updated: December 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Photography student Jessica Castillo, 18, walks through a Hunchback of Notre Dame art exhibit at the California Arts Institute Thursday afternoon on January 15.

 
Editor’s note: This is first in a 12-part series taking a look at 2009 news in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Even in the first month of 2009, concerns over state budget cuts forced local colleges and school districts into a precarious financial position.

College of the Canyons and the Master’s College were forced to cut programs and staff. The Saugus and Newhall School Districts considered hiring freezes and increasing class sizes to save staff jobs.  

Students also felt the pinch of California’s budget woes. To save thousands of dollars on their books, COC students started renting textbooks and flooded new classes offering professional work experience.

The basketball court was also ripe with stories in January.

Canyon and Hart high schools’ girls basketball teams had to dismiss a coach and three players over two days after officials discovered both schools had players living in different districts playing on their teams.

Some stories were more disturbing.

Hackers tormented a 17-year old special education student from Valencia High School by posting violent and pornographic pictures on his YouTube page for more than three weeks. Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Deputies filed a criminal complaint with the district attorney on Jan. 16 and the student had to stop using his YouTube account.

Master’s College cuts staff
Jan. 7 — Master’s College officials announced they were forced to let go of nine staff members to save financial aid programs for students. The cuts were also necessary to keep the cost of enrollment from skyrocketing, officials said at the time. About 80 percent of Master’s College students receive some form of financial aid.
“We’re working with students to make education affordable,” the college’s senior vice president Mark Tatlock said at the time.

Hart School District sued   
Jan. 8 — Willam S. Hart School district was sued by a family whose son said he was molested by former counselor Roselyn Hubbell. The lawsuit says Hubbell had a sexual relationship with the student and coerced him into smoking marijuana.  Hubbell was arrested in June after authorities caught her checking into a hotel room with a male student. In April, Hubbell plead ‘no contest’ to one count of misdemeanor molestation. She was forced to register as a sex offender and serve probation.

Teacher layoffs considered
Jan. 11 — Faced with losing almost $30 million in state funding over the next three years, William S. Hart Union School District officials said they were considering increasing class sizes and eliminating teachers, staff and other programs.   
“The kind of cuts the state is going to require will force us to consider the prospect of cutting teacher positions and increasing class sizes,” district superintendent Jaime Castellanos said at the time.

Night classes start filling up
The news wasn’t all dire that day. People fed up with their current job prospects started filling up night classes at COC. In 2008 night class enrollment jumped 20 percent as older students decided to go back to school.

Arts commission created
Jan. 13 — The City Council approved creating an arts commission by a 3-2 vote. The council was divided over whether money and resources should be dedicated to the commission during a city hiring freeze. Commission members were sworn in at their first meeting last week.

Jazz festival canceled
Also, COC canceled its annual R.K. Downs Jazz Festival. Budget cuts forced officials to pull the plug on the event that had been a fixture for the school’s jazz program for over 30 years.

The festival invites local high school bands to play with COC musicians for family and friends. The festival will be coming back next year; it’s scheduled for Feb. 27.

Basketball coach resigns
Jan. 15 — Canyon High’s girls basketball team was forced to forfeit 11 wins after it was discovered that two players falsified their residency records in order to play for the school.
Coach Stan Delus resigned and the two girls transferred to different schools within the district.

Basketball player transfers
Jan. 16 —  A senior on Hart High School’s girls basketball team was forced to transfer after telling her coach that she didn’t live in Santa Clarita. She told her coach because school officials were about to check players’ residency records.  

Students rent textbooks
Jan. 22 — COC set up a rental system for textbooks to save students money. On average, students were paying nearly $1,000 for books each semester — costing about three times more than their course fees. Renting books reduces the students’ cost by about 25 percent, saving them hundreds of dollars per book, officials said at the time.

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