The Dublin school board will increase some elementary and high school class sizes starting next year to make up for what school officials say are unprecedented budget cuts.
The items were included in a package of cuts unanimously approved by the school board with a 5-0 vote during its Tuesday night meeting.
"This is historical in terms of a reduction in funding," said Superintendent Stephen Hanke, who blamed state lawmakers for balancing the state budget plan with school cuts. "This is devastating to public education.
"This is not right. This is just not right," he said.
The district estimates it reduced this year's budget by $1.9 million and cut $2.1 million from next year's budget. This year's budget deficit was covered by using money in reserves and a campaign to boost attendance. School districts, among other income sources, get state money based on attendance.
The cuts for 2009-10 were grouped into five categories, with the first four totaling $1.8 million. They include $300,000 by increasing kindergarten classes to 21 and first- through third-grade class sizes to 25, with the average pupil-to-teacher ratio expected to be 23-to-1. Currently those classes average 19.5 students per class, according to the district. Ninth-grade math and English class sizes will increase to an average of 25, saving the district $90,000.
Other cuts directly related to students include fewer library media technicians and the fourth-grade band program being moved to an after school, fee-based program.
A district leadership position was cut, saving $137,000 a year, and a high school assistant principal salary of $131,000 was shifted to facilities, which the district said is allowed because of the construction going on at Dublin High. There were also what Hanke described as furloughs, meaning teachers will lose a staff development day.
Teachers, nonteaching staff and district leaders were given a total of three days of cuts, with each day saving $148,000, $25,000 and $17,000 respectively.
Some trustees said they would like to see the list of cuts revisited before having to make final budget decisions later this spring. Teachers at risk of losing their jobs for the next school year must be told by March 15, forcing school districts like Dublin to make preliminary budget plans earlier than usual.
Although a fifth category of cuts was approved, the cuts are considered a contingency plan. The cuts would increase class sizes in kindergarten through third grade to 28, saving about $820,000.
"We certainly do not anticipate having to go there," Hanke said.
District officials said the budget situation could get better if they get more students enrolled than expected or if money comes from the federal stimulus package. The district is also going to have campaigns for donations, including volunteer time.
Reach Eric Louie at 925-847-2123 or elouie@ bayareanewsgroup.com.