Due to current economic conditions, falling commercial property
tax revenue in Palo Alto, declining State revenues, an increase
in the cost of health care benefits, and growing enrollment, our
District has been forced to cut $6.5 million over the past two
years, and use over $3.4 million in one time money. Our secondary
schools have had a loss of $3.7 million dollars ($2.1 million
in the high schools and $1.6 million in the middle schools). Our
high schools have experienced a reduction in administrators, teaching,
and support staff, and a reduction in per pupil allocations from
the State and District. The high schools have attempted to offset
budget reductions. However, these budget cuts are impacting our
high school programs.
Our High Schools Have
Lost Teaching Periods
Each high school has been reduced 10 teaching periods. These “flexible
periods” allowed the high schools to offer a rich elective
program. While schools continue to be staffed according to contractual
agreements, many electives with lower enrollments are not being
offered this year. For example:
Our High Schools Have Lost Administrators
At Palo Alto High School, AP Physics, American
Sign Language I, German 1, AP Art History, American Lit, World
Lit 12, American Classics Honors, Shakespeare/Chaucer, Introduction
to Gender Study, Ethnic Studies, and Sports Medicine will
not be offered this year.
At Gunn High School, Multicultural Literature,
African American History, American Studies, Introduction to
Business Communication, Computer Applications, and History
of Women in America will not be offered.
The loss of staffing allocations over the
past two years has also eliminated additional classroom support
at each high school for Digital High School, Site Technology,
AVID Coordination, and Senior Projects.
The student to teacher counseling formula
changed from 360:1 to 400:1, along
Our high school administrative staff has been cut to a minimum.
Previously, each high school had a principal and three assistant
principals. Each high school now has a principal and two assistant
principals, a 25% reduction in administrative staff, at the same
time we have experienced student enrollment growth. As a result:
Our High Schools Have Lost Classified Staff Positions
Administrative responsibilities have been
reassigned to the principal and assistant principals.
Each high school has created a Dean’s
position (using classroom staffing allocation) to support
student discipline and attendance.
The reductions in classified staff positions over the past two years
have impacted teachers, students, and administrators. For example::
Reproduction technicians have been reduced
and teachers now do much of their own copying of materials,
a poor use of teachers’ time.
The athletic assistant position has been
eliminated and coaches or the athletic director are now responsible
for field and equipment set ups, transportation arrangements,
and field trip paperwork for classes missed on game days.
Attendance secretarial help has been reduced
resulting in a loss of time to monitor attendance and send
attendance notifications to parents.
Allocations for Computer Lab Specialists
have been reduced at both high schools.
Our High Schools Have
Lost Per Pupil Allocations from the State and District
State allocations for various programs
such as GATE (Gifted and Talented Education), SIP (School
Improvement Programs), Instructional Materials, School Library
Funds, and Instructional Technology have been reduced.
The District has been forced to reduce
the high school allocation per pupil from $101 to $80. For
a student body of 1,700, this is a loss of $10,300.
Additionally, $40,000 in support for each
high school’s athletic program has been cut over the
past two years, and $12,000 for Camp Anytown has been eliminated.
Funds for teachers to attend conferences, which supported
professional development for teachers, were also totally eliminated,
resulting in a loss of approximately $9,000 at each high school.
Our High Schools Have Attempted to Offset Budget
Our High Schools Are Among the Best in the
To offset these reductions, the high school
principals reviewed areas where they might seek additional
funding sources, as well as areas where we might increase
The high schools are now fundraising for
a variety of needs. While some fundraising can be done through
service organizations (e.g. Kiwanis Club for Camp Anytown),
most is done at the parent/community level.
The loss of revenue has also resulted in
increased costs to parents. For example, fees have increased
for sports participation, parking permits, student body cards,
lab fees, and copies of transcripts.
Exceptional teachers, challenging programs, dedicated parents, and
support from our community all contribute to our high student achievement.
Ninety-five percent of our graduates go
Each year over 40 percent of Paly and Gunn
students enroll in Honors and Advanced Placement classes
Over 70 percent of our graduates complete
the rigorous “A-G” University of California Admissions
Requirements for high school course work
Over 90 percent take the SAT College Board
Exam with a combined Verbal and Math score averaging 1250.
Revised October 2004