Hayward students protest proposed cuts

January 13, 2009 6:01:06 PM PST
Hayward Unified School District is facing massive budget cuts. The district says it needs to cut $12 million. Class size reduction and eliminating the current block system at three high schools are on the table, but many parents, teachers and students are not happy about that.

Tuesday afternoon many of those parents, teachers and students gathered in Hayward to voice their displeasure with the proposed cuts.

This spring the Mt. Eden High School choir will perform at Lincoln Center in New York. The choir is part of the school's electives program.

"In terms of the band, in terms of choir, the arts, but we also offer more in terms of college prep electives, AP classes, AP biology; these are the things that colleges are looking for," Mt. Eden teacher Lynn Allan said.

The electives are possible because the school is on a block system -- students take four classes in the fall and four in the spring for a total of eight, instead of only six classes a year which is what most schools offer.

But the district is proposing eliminating or modifying the block system to save money, even though the superintendent admits there is nearly $11 million in reserve.

"We're above the reserve in terms of revenue at this time, but because we are deficit spending almost $11 million, it's taking away all those reserves," district Superintendent Dale Vigil said.

These are all projected costs for next year's budget, which begins in July. The costs could end up being lower or higher depending on the governor's final budget.

Hayward also thinks it can save $2.7 million if it eliminates the 20 to 1 student-teacher ratio.

"So again, it will reduce classes, K-3 would be over 32 students in a classroom and lose the revenue that we get for class size reduction," Hayward Education Association spokesperson Kathleen Crummey said. "We know there are districts proposing to their boards in the next two months to reduce class size because they have to look at where the money is."