San Luis Coastal Unified School District trustees will decide tonight whether they will increase elementary class sizes and eliminate a longstanding program that provides teachers to adults with disabilities.
No other major changes to programs or staffing are being suggested for the district’s proposed $74 million general fund in the upcoming 2011-12 budget.
Class sizes in kindergarten to third grade would increase to an average of 25 pupils per class, up from 23 pupils per class the current school year. Upper elementary, middle school and high school ratios will stay the same.
If approved, the savings — about $300,000 — will be used to fund one extra staff person at each of the district’s elementary schools in identified areas of need, such as a specialist in reading or math skills, Superintendent Eric Prater said.
Eliminating the adults with disabilities program, if approved, will save an additional $500,000. That money will be put back into educational programs for school-aged youth, Prater said.
There are currently six teachers in the program. Those instructors will be offered other jobs in the district, he said.
“It is not something I am proud of, but I believe the decision needs to be made,” Prater said. “Educating adults is not a part of our mission, and when the economy became what it has, we were forced to ask hard questions about what we could no longer afford to do.”
The district, the second largest in the county with 7,234 students, faces a $1.5 million cut in state funding in 2011-12.
The proposed 2011-12 budget comes after more than $9 million in cuts made in the prior year that resulted in more than 15 fewer teachers, larger class sizes and the delayed purchase of new equipment and textbooks.
San Luis Coastal, a basic aid district, is funded mostly through local property taxes. It only receives state funding for programs that provide support for low-income students, transportation, health education, physical education and the arts.
Other school districts in the county mainly rely on state revenues and have faced major program and staffing cuts in recent years.
The San Luis Coastal school board is also expected to allocate more than $6.1 million to fund the district’s newly revamped five-year strategic plan.
The 10 initiatives focus on improving technology in classrooms, adding additional preschool opportunities, increasing the number of students qualified for the UC and CSU systems and strengthening students’ experience at school by making it a more inclusive environment.
Administrators are recommending that some of the funding for that plan — a little more than $2 million — come from the district’s reserves.
The district is mandated by the state to have a 3 percent reserve for economic uncertainties. The school district’s total reserve is about $20 million — or 20 percent. The board can use some of that for programs related to student achievement, said Russell Miller, assistant superintendent of business services.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.