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Hart district, COC look at making reductions

School officials look for ways to cut back on expenses in light of state’s projected deficit

Posted: June 10, 2009 9:48 p.m.
Updated: June 11, 2009 6:00 a.m.

Leaders of the Hart district and College of the Canyons Wednesday outlined the millions of dollars in budget reductions expected to come for the 2009-10 fiscal year given the state’s projected $24 billion deficit.

The William S. Hart Union High School District anticipates a $2 million shortfall for the 2009-10 fiscal year, with more shortfalls projected for the years after, said Superintendent Jaime Castellanos.

“It’s going to be at least two or three difficult years for the Hart district at this point in time,” Castellanos told board members from the Hart district and Santa Clarita Community College District during a joint meeting.

Budget cuts for the Hart district come from four sources: salary reductions, shortening the number of work days, increasing class sizes and putting a cap on benefits, Castellanos said.

The district has already used federal stimulus money and shifted categorical funding to offset budget cuts and eliminate the possibility of teacher layoffs for the upcoming school year, he said.

However the district will most likely look at pink slips, benefit caps and salary reductions in January as part of mid-year cuts, he said.

College of the Canyons is preparing to make an $8 million reduction for the 2009-10 fiscal year, Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook said.

The community college already made a $2.4 million reduction during the current year, Van Hook said.

While the community college has more flexibility than K-12 school districts, community colleges are not mandated education, she said.

To meet the reduction, the college has proposed consolidating operations and hours of service, among other options, she said.

An early-retirement incentive program is being considered and the community college is analyzing how federal stimulus money could benefit College of the Canyons, she said.

“We are hot on the trail to find money where ever we can,” she said.

Also during the meeting, Van Hook and Barry Gribbons, assistant superintendent, updated board members on progress on the University Center, expected to finish construction in July and open in October.

The 110,000-square-foot center, located on the Valencia campus of College of the Canyons, will provide local residents an opportunity to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The center will also house many of the community college’s offices and Academy of the Canyons, a 9th- through 12th-grade Hart district school where students earn high school and college credits simultaneously.

A temporary 7,500-square-foot center that opened in 2002 is currently operating on the Valencia campus.

The center currently offers 29 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and advanced certificated programs.

The interim center has yielded 1,200 graduates so far, Van Hook said.

“I think it’s pretty remarkable what’s happened in that University Center since it first opened up,” Van Hook said.

College officials anticipate adding more programs for the permanent center, including new engineering and math degrees through California State University Los Angeles, Gribbons said.



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