HAYWARD -- After school board members rejected a plea for more funding, the Hayward adult school will have to make cuts that could include laying off teachers.
The adult school, also known as the Hayward Center for Education and Careers, is spending more than the $1.2 million the district allocated for it and needs $375,000 more to balance its budget by the end of the year, Director of Business Support Services Luci Rogers told district trustees Wednesday.
The additional money would be used for salaries, adult school Principal Ryan Whetstone told the board. "We're working to see if there possibly are other ways to cover those salaries. There may be grant funds, federal funds," he said.
When asked if he had made any cuts, Whetstone said he felt compelled to continue the education offerings that had been promised before he took the principal job in August.
"Where are your cuts from the school site that show us you're making an effort to keep your budget under control?" board President William McGee asked.
"I didn't make them. I did not make the cuts," Whetstone said.
McGee responded, "If the grants go away, the personnel has to go away."
He said that while Whetstone may have inherited a situation, it was his responsibility as a principal to manage his budget.
"I cannot understand why with the allocation you were provided this school year that you're over budget," McGee said.
To balance the budget, reductions will now have to be made, but nothing has been decided, Whetstone said in an interview Friday. "It's time to make some tough decisions," he said.
Most of the 90 or so adult school instructors work less than nine hours a week and have year-to-year contracts, said Mercedes Faraj, president of the teachers' union, the Hayward Education Association. They do not have the same protection as what are called "contract teachers," who must be notified by March 15 that they might be let go at the end of the year.
"The union is going to be working diligently to preserve adult education and keep it in the Hayward Unified School District," Faraj said. "They really do a great service for the community at-large. We would hope HUSD recognizes that the teachers serve an important function," she said.
Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed shifting adult education classes from K-12 schools to community colleges. If that proposal goes through, school districts could still offer adult education, but no state money would be available to pay for it, Rogers said.
In Oakland, the adult education school is slated for closure at the end of the school year if the shift to community colleges is made, said Chris Nelson, Oakland adult school administrator. "Right now, we don't know what's going to happen because we don't know if the governor's proposal is going through," he said.
Across the state, 50 school districts have eliminated adult education programs since 2009, according to Nelson.
The Hayward adult school has served more than 3,700 students this year, Whetstone said.
Student fees only make up about 12 percent of the school's revenue, Rogers said Friday. The rest comes from the district and grants, but the grant amounts have dropped off.
Most of the school's students are low-income, with English as a second language the most popular classes, along with those that prepare students to take the General Education Development (GED) test to earn a high school equivalency certificate.