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Impact of Budget Reductions on High Schools


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:

  • 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 Schools Have Lost Administrators

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:
  • 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.
Our High Schools Have Lost Classified Staff Positions
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 Reductions

  • 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 fees.
  • 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.
Our High Schools Are Among the Best in the Nation

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 to college
  • 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