Morgan Hill Unified School District Board of Education dais.

The Morgan Hill Unified School District has begun issuing layoff notices to staff in an effort to cut about $5.5 million from the budget before the 2024-25 school year begins. 

Parents of some students who attend MHUSD schools say the staff cuts will have a detrimental impact on their children’s learning, and district officials should look elsewhere to cut expenses they can no longer afford. One of the parents, Anahita Yazdi, recently started an online petition to encourage the community and MHUSD board of education to reject the staff cuts. 

“The proposed cuts directly affect our children’s education,” Yazdi said in an email. “Reductions in teaching positions, support staff and essential programs jeopardize the quality of learning and student well-being.” 

Additional concerns from Yazdi, whose child attends Paradise Valley, and other parents include a perceived lack of transparency and inadequate analysis by district officials on the proposed budget cuts. 

While the MHUSD board has already approved about $5.5 million in staff reductions for the 2024-25 school year, the parents are hoping they can still make a difference and reinstate the eliminated positions and teaching staff. 

Specifically, MHUSD trustees recently approved Superintendent Dr. Carmen Garcia’s proposal to eliminate some Teachers on Special Assignment (though some will return to their original teaching positions), two elementary assistant principal positions, two academic counselors, four school office assistant positions that support the district’s wellness centers and coordinator of wellness, says a statement issued by Garcia on the district’s website. 

The cuts also include “collapsing two administrative positions into one, freezing administrator vacancies, transferring some positions to new grants we have received, 10% reduction of district and site discretionary allocations, as well as a reduction of districtwide contracts,” says Garcia’s March 12 statement. 

As of March 18, three active MHUSD employees had received layoff notices, according to district spokesperson Lanae Bays. 

Garcia’s statement said, “Our top priority is to minimize the impact of these fiscal adjustments on our students and classrooms. To this end, we will be applying an equity approach and partnering with our Teachers, Academic Counselors, Wellness staff, Classified, and Administrator teams to co-design a plan that focuses on continuous academic and administrative support for our students.”

MHUSD, like many districts in the region, is facing a growing budget deficit due to the depletion of one-time Covid-19 funds provided to local schools from the state of California and the federal government during the pandemic. These funds accounted for about $16.8 million in revenue for MHUSD since 2020, and the last of it is expected to be spent before the end of the 2023-24 school year. 

Furthermore, the state government is facing a budget deficit that is expected to take a toll on education throughout California. 

Thus, the district finds itself in a $13 million hole over the next two years, with $5.5 million of that tabbed for cuts in the 2024-25 school year budget, according to MHUSD staff. Another $7 million or more may have to be cut from MHUSD in 2025. 

The district’s unrestricted general fund budget for 2023-24 was about $99.6 million. 

Garcia added that the superintendent’s office has been discussing the cuts and potential reductions with staff over the past few months. 

The petition created by Yazdi lists three areas of concern over the classroom staff cuts: student impact, teacher hardships and high compensation.

“We believe that the district should consider other avenues for cost savings, such as reducing high compensation for certain district staff. Transparency and fairness are essential in budget decisions,” reads a section of the petition titled “High Compensation.”
The petition had been signed by 249 people as of March 20. 

“We understand the Covid fund received by (MHUSD) was not explicitly restricted in terms of usage categories,” Yazdi added in an email to this newspaper. “However, they were primarily intended to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on education. The lack of specific restrictions allowed MHUSD to allocate these funds based on their immediate needs, but it also meant that decisions on spending were left to the district’s discretion.”

At the March 19 MHUSD board meeting, Yazdi told trustees during public comment that even though district officials knew the Covid-19 funds were one-time revenue, they were spent on “ongoing expenditure and program expansion…” 

“We also request a comprehensive impact analysis of any budget cut proposal prior to adoption and approval,” Yazdi said. “Moving forward we ask for more transparency.” 

The MHUSD board of trustees is expected to approve the district’s budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year by the end of June. 

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.



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