High School Consolidation– What You Need to Know (UPDATE!)

Amira Beck, Staff Writer

The second board meeting took place on November 4th. This meeting was concerned with budget realities, possible scenarios, and the next steps for our district. It began at 6:10 pm with a slide show given by Superintendent Toni Beal on possible scenarios given our budget realities. At 7:00, a 2 hour and 45-minute public comment session began. Afterward, the board was given 15 minutes to respond to any clarifying questions and give general responses. The meeting ended shortly after 10:00 pm. 

Jeff Ogston began the meeting repeating the slides and budget realities that he had given in the October 28th meeting,. Superintendent Beal then detailed four possible scenarios that could result from these realities. 

  1. The first scenario would not consolidate the schools or involve budget reductions. In this situation, the board would receive a negative certification, meaning they are not able to meet financial obligations for the current fiscal year or subsequent year. We would run out of cash by June 2022 and have to seek a loan from the state. This loan would require the state to assign an administrator, resulting in the district losing decision making power. This administrator would likely cut many programs and we would have no control over the outcome. 
  2. The second option would entail not consolidating schools, but making necessary budget cuts to stay afloat. These cuts would not only include a six-period day, with no 0 or 7-period option but subsequently would cut 30 elective classes. These include but are not limited to: Art Studio, Yearbook, Treble Choir, Band, Leadership, Chemistry Agricultural Science, Chemistry Honors, and Spanish 2, 3, and 4H. These classes would not be the only losses, as we would also have to cut sports funding by 330,000 dollars, and move Laguna and the District Office to El Molino’s campus. 
  3. The third scenario would be to consolidate in the 2022-2023 school year. This would push the decision out by one year but result in the cutting of 15 electives, including Dance, AP Music Theory, Art Studio, Woodshop, and Media Production. Analy would also switch to a 6th period day, with the option of a 0 and 7 period. Consolidation a year later would save a necessary 1.27 million, and those budget cuts would keep Analy afloat.
  4. The fourth and final option is what we are most familiar with– consolidation in the next school year. This would mean Analy, El Molino, and Laguna would be functioning together on one campus. This would allow for the strengthening of certain electives and sports and would entail limited budget cuts. 

This decision must be made by November 18th, and class cuts must be finalized before March 15th, as that is the deadline for layoff notifications. Teachers and parents were divided on the matter of consolidation during this meeting, with Supervisor Lynda Hopkins saying “we won’t win unless everyone wins”. The general mood of the meeting was not enthusiastic, but pragmatic. It seems that we will have to be West Sonoma County strong for the unclear future.