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Year in Review: A year full of tough school cuts

Year in R2010 was a year of fiscal worries for education officials and their local school districts

Posted: December 29, 2010 7:54 p.m.
Updated: December 30, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

This year was tough for Santa Clarita Valley school districts.

California’s $20-billion budget deficit left public school educators watching as their budgets were slashed to make up for the state’s shortfalls.

And Santa Clarita Valley school districts were no different as educators tried to figure out ways to make budget cuts that would have the least effect on students.

Furloughs, increased class sizes
With less money, Santa Clarita Valley school districts responded with unpaid days off for employees, pay cuts and increased class sizes.

“The state is in a fiscal crisis, and they’re not helping education,” Hart district Superintendent Robert Challinor told The Signal Editorial Board in August.

The William S. Hart Union High School District was one of many local school districts that trimmed five days from its school year. The decision to cut down the school year to 175 days amounted to a 3.24-percent pay cut for the roughly 900 members of the Hart District Teachers Association. The move saved the district $1.7 million.

Across the Santa Clarita Valley, school district officials decided to increase class sizes to nearly if not more than 30 students in all grades.

“We are making hard decisions,” Sulphur Springs School District board President Sheldon Wigdor told The Signal in February. “We have protected class size as long as we can, but we are now in a position where difficult choices and difficult decisions have to be made.”

Fewer college classes, more students
Although College of the Canyons has weathered the fiscal storm much better than other California community colleges, the school hasn’t been immune to state cuts.

Through a number of cost-cutting measures, the college was able to trim $4 million from its annual budget and adopt a balanced budget in the face of economic uncertainty.

Among the ways the college saved money was by cutting classes.

During this year’s fall semester, COC offered fewer classes — 1,348 courses this semester, a 14.4-percent drop from the same time two years ago, according to college figures.

Without enough classes, nearly 8,000 COC students were placed on wait lists in the hopes that they would secure the courses they needed.

The cuts to classes came as College of the Canyons experienced a dramatic growth in students this year with an estimated 23,000 students enrolling in the college for the new school year.

Many of the students were victims of the economic recession, having been laid off from their careers.

Those students turned to the community college in hopes that they could learn new skills to find new jobs.

The college also saw an increase in the number of students who had been turned away from the state’s university systems, which are dealing with their own budget cuts and increased tuition rates.

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