GUSD graduation dates: A guessing game

 

Seniors at Gilroy and Christopher High School will proudly
saunter across the stage during graduation ceremonies at the end of
this school year
– but no one knows when, exactly. Full story
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Seniors at Gilroy and Christopher High School will proudly saunter across the stage during graduation ceremonies at the end of this school year – but no one knows when, exactly.

In fact, official commencement dates won’t be pegged down until January 2012 at the very earliest, according to Debbie Flores, Superintendent of the Gilroy Unified School District.

This means GUSD parents who want to plan ahead should consider dueling dates of June 1 or June 8; a wild card thrown at districts thanks to funding uncertainties floating around at the state level. For now, Flores can only confirm both Christopher and Gilroy High Schools will have their own commencement ceremonies on their own campuses at staggered starting times.

“At this point, we cannot confirm the date due to possible actions taken at the state level regarding K-12 funding,” wrote Flores in a district-wide letter. “The graduation date is currently listed as June 1. However, this may or may not be the actual graduation date.”

Because the state budget that was passed June 30 provides level funding for kindergarten through 12th grade districts, GUSD will receive the same level funding as the previous school year. Right now, the district is faced with about $3 million in cuts, “mostly due to a loss of federal stimulus funds and rising costs,” Flores explains. As it budgeted, GUSD accounted for this $3 million downfall, adopting a 175 day school year and a June 1 graduation date. However, the district had to solidify its budget prior to the adoption of the state budget.

With the news of flat funding from the state, Flores said the GUSD school board would like to consider increasing the school year back up to 180 days, which means the graduation date would be changed to June 8. Still, an unknown variable in the state budget includes a “trigger” provision, which could go into effect mid-year if projected state revenues fall short. Should these triggers go into effect, GUSD will receive less funding than what it originally had to budget for, according to Flores.

“The state indicates that this may mean the districts will need to cut the school year by as much as seven additional days,” she writes. “The trigger does not go into effect until December, so we will not know until then if we need to cut an additional $3 million.”

Bottom line: Fiscal ambiguities caused by a fluctuating state budget – which could force trustees to plan on the fly if midyear triggers go into effect – need to be considered by the board as they figure out the length of the school year, Flores wrote.

She also said that the length of the school year is a negotiable item. The district must reach agreements with its unions regarding furlough days, she said.

GUSD district offices can be reached at (408) 847-2700 or by visiting their website, www.gusd.k12.ca.us.

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