April 6, 2021
To the WSCUHSD Community,
The West Sonoma County Union High School District has heard our community’s concerns regarding the merging of our two high school campuses, and we realize this is very difficult for everyone. We want you to know we are not closing any of our campuses; we will be utilizing them all to some extent next school year and plan for much more use in years to come. We have no plans to erase history, remove statues, murals, or bricks from any campus. There are no plans or discussions regarding the sale of our district property at this time.
Our goal is to preserve all of the history from our schools and our district. While the district had to make a very difficult decision, we did it with the best intentions for all our current students and future students. We want all of our students to have access to high quality education. The Board studied a list of potential cuts in public meetings that included programs, sports, and services to students. If the Board of Trustees did not make this difficult decision, these programs and services would have been eliminated.
Our budget reality cannot be ignored. We have a large structural deficit and have had a structural deficit for over a decade – meaning we have a chronic problem of spending more than we receive from what the state allocates. In household terms, we are spending more than we make. No one runs their home or business this way or not for very long – bankruptcy will eventually take hold. That is exactly what will happen if we do not get this downward deficit spiral under control. The school district needs to make substantial changes in how we do business and how we proceed into the future in order to maintain quality programs, sports and services for our students. Currently we need to cut our expenses by $1.2 million. The harsh reality is that we had 2 options:
1) severely cut student programming, such as music, dance, theatre, art, and even AP classes, along with our very special West County sports programs; or
2) cut our operational expenses. We chose to prioritize services and programs for our 1,600 students.
That said, we realized the option to merge campuses would be very controversial and unsettling for many in our community. Before we arrived at this decision to merge campuses, the board carefully examined program cuts, because we knew merging high schools would not be an easy decision for our community.
The District considered:
- Cut back to a FULL Six period day - $600,000 cuts (30 elective teachers = 93 elective sections) Examples of programs lost: Music, AP Music Theory, Instrumental Music, Art Studio, Digital Photography, Yearbook, Farm to Table, Woodshop, Stagecraft, Leadership, AP Psychology, Spanish 2, 3, 4/Honors, Treble Choir, Dance, Media Production, Digital Filmmaking, Advanced Sustained Agriculture, Band, AP Environmental Science, Chemistry Honors, Chemistry Agricultural Science, AP Political Science
- Make Administrative Reductions - $150,000 cuts
- Move Laguna and the District Office to the El Molino Campus - $220,000 cuts (Administrative, Classified and Counseling Staffing Reductions)
- Sports - $330,000 reductions - Approximately 750 students affected. Examples of sports lost - Frosh, JV, Varsity: Football, basketball, Mountain Biking, Volleyball, Wrestling, Track and Field, Cross Country, Badminton, Tennis, Soccer.
We chose instead to prioritize services and programs to all our students and cut our operational expenses. When we could see that campus consolidation was likely inevitable in order to balance our budget, we went to the voters with Measure A (and B), and it was not supported. We hear your loud voices pleading to keep the school open, but the broader community said, “No new taxes.” So, here we are, caught between reducing operational costs to run facilities or reducing courses, electives and sports for our students. Even anticipating your anger, we made a decision that favors our students, today and tomorrow.
New District Culture: Unity
The District is beginning the process of creating a campus culture and identity that is shared by all students. No decisions have been made at this time regarding names, mascots, colors or any of these details, because we want the students and the community to inform this work. The District has also confirmed with the NCAA and the University of California and California State University systems that the school merger will not impact the student’s ability to play college sports or impact college entry. We realize that everyone in our school communities has a love for their school and we realize this is difficult for everyone. We have no intention of erasing history at either campus, nor do we have plans to sell any district property at this time. We want a climate and culture that is welcoming for all students and staff, and our plan is to welcome students in the Fall of 2021 with a new school model. We want the student and community voices to be heard, considered and help guide this work.
The Unity Committee and the District Board of Trustees are working towards a shared vision that will put students at the center. We appreciate the dedication our parents and community have for our schools. We hope our community will join us as we turn towards unity and build a new model for the education of our West Sonoma County Union High School District and for our students.
The WSCUHSD Board of Trustees