Kids will have a shorter school year and bigger classes as East Palo Alto's Ravenswood City School District adjusts to state budget realities.
Two of Ravenswood's eight campuses will not re-open this fall as the K-8 district serving 3,600 children in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park looks to save on administrative and maintenance costs.
In a budget session Thursday night, trustees brainstormed for revenue-generating schemes -- one suggested selling advertising space on the inside of school buses and on playing fields.
Several trustees asked whether they could eliminate the school transportation program entirely. But because of federal requirements for transport for special-education students -- as well as state funding available for transportation -- it would cost more to keep the buses for special education alone than to continue the current program, the district business manager said.
Already, the board has voted to eliminate the district's entire technology staff, though several trustees said Thursday they want to reconsider that decision.
The district's library staff also is on the chopping block.
The board will make a final vote on the job cuts -- and the district's 2011-12 budget -- June 23.
Nearly half of Ravenswood's $39 million budget comes from restricted federal and state grants targeted specifically to address things like poverty, special education, school improvement, migrant education and English-language learners.
About 80 percent of Ravenswood students are considered low-income under government guidelines, 61 percent are English language learners and 30 percent each year are new enrollees, according to the Ravenswood Education Foundation.
Business Manager Megan Curtis has proposed cutting $3.2 million in the unrestricted budget mainly through class size increases, furlough days and school closures.
K-3 class size this fall will go from 20 to nearly 25. In grades four through eight, class size will rise from 29 to 31.
The larger classes will save the district more than $1 million and reduce total classrooms in the district by 21 to 24, Curtis said. The teaching positions will be lost by attrition, officials said.
Five furlough days -- reducing the school year from 185 to 180 days -- will save $287,000, Curtis said.
By closing two schools, Curtis said the district will save $320,000 in principal and office manager salaries and an additional $100,000 in operation and utilities savings.
Parents will hear about specific school closures in letters next week, officials said.
Superintendent Maria de la Vega repeatedly has warned that "consolidations" will be necessary, but the affected schools have not been officially announced.
One official said Thursday that Flood and Brentwood schools will be "merged" and Cesar Chavez will merge with Green Oaks.
"We need to think about ways to generate revenue from the empty campuses," Board Chair Sharifa Wilson said.
Though it is still a low-performing district, Ravenswood's state test scores have inched up in recent years, and voters in May narrowly gave two-thirds approval to renew and increase a parcel tax, which will cost property owners $196 per parcel per year.