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December 1, 2021

Worried about high school budget cut proposals

Up to $515,000 in suggested cuts – mostly personnel – has some Gilroy High School employees worried and the principal is against almost all the recommendations that could seriously affect the way the school runs.
“As a principal, I don’t like it,” Principal Wendy Gudalewicz said. “It seemed to me that a lot of it was looking at the high school as a place to save money, and I don’t appreciate that.”
The report by Joe Di Geronimo, a consultant with Trident Enterprises and the new interim administrator for business services at Gilroy Unified, suggests a number of areas in the district where officials could make cuts to save more than 51 million. Of those suggested areas, cutting up to 10 jobs at the high school could save between $455,000 and $515,000.
“We have had some people who are very upset because there is uncertainty,” Gudalewicz said. “This isn’t an issue of reassignment.”
Gudalewicz said she is not worried because she does not believe the school board will implement all the suggestions.
“Those are recommendations, and if you really got into the impact of those changes, we have an intelligent board, and they would figure it out,” she said.
Di Geronimo completed the report after spending 10 days in the district, and that is something the school board will need to consider, according to Jack Daley, activities director at the high school.
‘I’m not sure that without really spending time here you can make those generalizations, he said. “‘Obviously, belt-tightening needs to happen. I think that’s what the board is going to have to balance – the ideal and how you can operate the district.”
Sal Tomasello, a government teacher and athletic director at the school, believes that the cuts would adversely affect Gilroy High’s ability to get people to do certain jobs, such as the athletic or activities director positions. Tomasello spends 60 percent of his time in the classroom and 40 percent as the athletic director in charge of 26 sports. His duties include scheduling, arranging transportation, meeting with sports officials, budgeting and arranging security and managing ticket sales for on-campus events. A typical whiter day stretches from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. for Tomasello. If one of the coordinator positions was cut, the school would most likely lose the one dedicated to college and career coordination, Gudalewicz said. However, Gudalewicz said this is one of the more feasible recommendations. 
“I think this Mr. Di Geronimo has been away from school sites for too long,” he said. “When you make a recommendation to cut two assistant principals and cut release time, you won’t find people to accept these jobs.” One suggestion that does not cut personnel is to decrease release time for teachers. This is the tune they have to work on other activities, and nine people _ every coach at the high school as well as the athletic and activities directors _ have one period of release time. “I could see them doing that one because that’s not as difficult to implement as some of the others, she said. 
The first suggestion about the high school that the report makes is reducing the staff of four vice principals in half to save about $150,000. By eliminating release time, Di Geronimo estimates that the district could save $100,000. But the staff, especially the two directors need the time to get their jobs done, according to Gudalewicz. One recommendation that would be difficult to Implement is the cutting of two to three clerical and one to two maintenance staff, according to Gudalewicz. 
The report states that GI-IS is “overly staffed administratively by almost any standard,” and that typically a school of GHS’s size, about 2,100 students, has two vice principals, but Gudalewicz said that she had worked in a high school of 1,250 students that had four assistant principals. Reducing the number would mean a lot more work for the remaining administrators. Daley said he would think twice about doing the job if he received only the stipend of $2,300 that he currently gets. The director is responsible for such activities as dances, including prom, and academic awards programs, and he uses the time to plan. “I can’t see that happening,” she said. “Our staff are already overworked.” 
“I don’t imagine the district would do that,” Gudalewicz said. “The way we function right now, we all work a lot of extra hours to get done what we need to get done.
The recommendation to cut vice principals would leave the school short two administrators for two of its “houses.” The house model is an organizational structure that Gudalewicz implemented this year that divides students into four groups, based on their tutorial periods. Currently, each house has a counselor and an assistant principal. Because the counseling positions have been eliminated for next year, each house will have an academic coordinator, who will be responsible for students’ academic achievement. Next on the list of targeted cuts was the number of students per physical education teacher. Currently, each PE teacher has about 36 students, but Di Geronimo suggested increasing that number to 45, to eliminate two teachers, and to save between $50,000 and $100,000. 
The report suggested cutting the number of academic coordinators by one to save $65,000 to $75,000. The school is concerned about student safety, according to Gudalewicz. 
operate the district.” “That would interfere with the plan that’s coining out because the plan was designed for four, not three,” Gudalewicz said. 
The estimated savings for the clerical cuts are $90,000 and for the custodial costs are $60,000. Di Geronimo lists the high school as having 10 clerical personnel, plus Regional Occupational Program and vocational education clerks, as well as eight custodians.  
Gudalewicz said the school has two attendance secretaries, one in discipline, one receptionist, one secretary for the principal who also does other activities, one clerk in the counseling department and one full-time counseling secretary, one registrar and one Associated Student Body secretary. Cutting any of those positions would be detrimental to the school, according to Gudalewicz. 
  And cutting custodians in the district is not even a question, since district officials ordering almost 29 new portables.

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