Layoffs, budget cuts proposed for Ravenswood City School District

Ravenswood City School District headquarters at 2120 Euclid Ave. in East Palo Alto
Ravenswood City School District headquarters at 2120 Euclid Ave. in East Palo Alto

Daily Post Staff Writer

In order to avoid a financial crisis, Ravenswood City School District officials said yesterday they are proposing to cut at least 83 positions and have its preschool run by someone else.

To stay afloat, the district must cut $5 million over the next two years. Most of the money saved would be from layoffs. Employee costs are about 80% of the district’s budget of $48 million.

The budget proposals will be presented to the board at its meeting on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at 2120 Euclid Ave.

Enrollment falling

The district, which serves East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park, has seen a dramatic decline in enrollment, said Steve Eichman, the district’s financial officer. The district is funded by the state based on the number of students enrolled, and more importantly, how many that show up.

This school year, there are 2,682 students enrolled in the district compared to 2014 when there were 3,457 students.

Enrollment has been falling since at least the 1999-2000 school year.

The cuts are in response to the drop in enrollment, Eichman said.

Of the 83 positions to be cut, 15 are teacher positions for next year, which has already been accomplished because the district has received 15 notices from teachers that they will not be returning next year. The district has 169 teachers.

Eichman said the district receives about 41 resignations or retirements a year.

The 68 other positions are management, teacher aides, and other non-teachers, 28 of those are if the board gives the go-ahead to stop operating its preschool.

The proposal calls for handing over the preschool to either the state or the county.

Positions on the chopping block

Positions proposed for elimination include an assistant superintendent, two principals, two vice principals, four secretaries, two office managers, two “child nutrition and education workers,” two workers in the child nutrition warehouse, two custodians, a “community outreach specialist” and a parent liaison.

Eichman said it’s not yet clear who will actually be laid off, because the district is negotiating with the unions to determine who will be let go.

The two principal and vice principal positions will be eliminated by the consolidating of the district’s middle schools into one comprehensive middle school, according to district spokesman Rolando Bonilla.

The school opened this year at the Cesar Chavez and Green Oaks Academy location at 2450 Ralmar Ave. The school started this year with only 6th graders and will include 7th and 8th graders in the next two years, eventually taking over the Ralmar campus.

This includes moving the Los Robles Academy to McNair Academy’s campus on Pulgas Avenue, which has been consolidated into the new middle school.

In all, the staff cuts will result in $5.8 million being cut.

More cuts if parcel tax fails

However, an additional $1.1 million, and 13 teachers, may have to be cut if the district’s $195 per parcel tax is not approved by voters this June.

The district’s parcel tax helps fund the cost of keeping teachers in the district, who are paid an average of $85,000 annually, according to Eichman. If the parcel tax is not renewed, Eichman and the unions will likely have to take a second look at which teaching positions to cut.