I write to address the recent discourse surrounding Morgan Hill Unified School District’s budgetary challenges and the need for accountability within our local educational leadership. I also write to respond to Heather Orosco’s recent letter to the editor, “This isn’t FUND anymore!” 

Let’s be clear: the responsibility for the district’s budgetary woes rests not with the state, but with decisions made by the local superintendent and board of trustees. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but the truth is undeniable. 

Morgan Hill’s once-exemplary reputation for fiscal responsibility has eroded since the arrival of the new superintendent three years ago. Since then, the budget has bled funds at an alarming rate. 

In these turbulent financial waters, who steers the ship? It’s none other than our current superintendent and board of trustees. We must face the reality that school districts are entrusted to manage their budgets responsibly, living within allocated funds without resorting to finger-pointing. True leaders accept responsibility for their decisions; weak leaders blame others. 

The California School Board Association outlines the clear mandate of the board: to establish budget priorities and adopt the budget. 

Yet, Morgan Hill’s board has strayed from these duties, recklessly allowing the superintendent to play with one-time funds and reserves, and heedlessly adding personnel and programs without regard for sustainability and then to turn around and blame the state. This is irresponsible. 

A retrospective of local decisions over the past two years unveils a pattern of eyebrow-raising choices coinciding with a significant increase in personnel at the same time that student enrollment has declined. 

Assistant principals were added at elementary schools, additional counselors added beyond established ratios, and unnecessary management positions proliferated—all contributing to the burgeoning budgetary crisis. Since the superintendent came to Morgan Hill, approximately 140 new positions have been added to payroll. Clearly this is NOT sustainable. 

Moreover, initiatives like hastily adding a seventh period at high schools, hiring executive coaches for the superintendent and principals, and paying above-market rates for administrative positions has exacerbated our financial plight. 

The recent cut of 26 positions is only a drop in the proverbial bucket…and only a small portion representing the damage this superintendent has done to the budget—and has done before in previous districts where she worked. Morgan Hill will need to continue to cut deeply over the next few years to balance the deep deficit spending. 

Neighboring districts did NOT proceed in this same manner and likewise are not in a situation like Morgan Hill. Let’s abandon the facade of blaming external forces for our financial woes. These are LOCAL decisions, and it’s time for our MHUSD superintendent and board to acknowledge their errors, accept responsibility, and stop blaming the state for decisions that they have made. 

It’s time to restore prudence and sanity to our budgeting process.

Jill Hastings

Morgan Hill 

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  1. Thank you so much! So many of us think what you have said so eloquently but feel like our voices are not heard. There needs to be change from the top down if we are to truly fix these issues.

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