This article was written by BenitoLink intern Kinsey Canez
Newly hired Chief Business Officer Elizabeth Wilson presented the Hollister School District’s revised budget for the 2022-23 school year at a trustees meeting on Aug. 23. The budget reflects significant funding increases for student support programs and Average Daily Attendance.
In the budget, categorical programs—both existing and new—will see an additional $17.5 million divided among three programs.
The Expanded Learning Opportunities program, which is not a new program for HSD, will receive $5.47 million to further student engagement and contact with teachers, primarily through afterschool and summer school programs. Wilson said a plan for how these funds will be used in the 2022-23 school year is being developed.
“This is ongoing funding,” she said. “The governor is serious about longer contact for our students; get them there early. It could be before school, it could be after school. We’re looking for enrichment for our students, keeping them engaged in a fun way. So we need to continue with that plan.”
A new $3.46 million Arts, Music and Instructional Materials Grant was added to the categorical program budget, with leeway in how the funds can be used.
“What you don’t see is that it can be used for any operational needs of the district, which means we can probably use it for anything in the district,” Wilson said. “We’re not tied to arts and music. We’re not tied to instructional materials that are out there. Being discretionary is a really big thing as we develop that plan to look at all of the needs of the district.”
During public comment, there was a glimpse into what these options were. Classroom teachers and a school nurse expressed what they hope will come from the new funding: school counselors, updated technology, physical education teachers and better support for educators.
“Should you choose not to hire PE teachers, counselors, custodians, IT support, nurses and also update our technology, then students must not be your top priority,” said Kristen Damm, who teaches second grade at Calaveras Elementary School. “Put our students first, put your money where your mouth is, and do what is right.”
Ethan Cristobal, a third grade teacher at R.O. Hardin Elementary School, shared Damm’s desire for additional staff support. “Every year that I’ve been in this district, we have lost more and more services. This year, third grade will not get the reading intervention that we desperately need,” he said. “During the pandemic, our students’ reading scores have plummeted, and we’re trying our best to raise them up, but we have no extra help. We want to see those services restored, because what we need is a better student-to-adult ratio.”
Anita Sarringhaus, a nurse for the Hollister School District, said there is a tremendous need for school counselors.
“Our kids, two weeks into school, have immediate and urgent behavioral needs.They have counseling needs,” Sarringhaus said. “I am begging you to please have a counselor at every single school site. What I witnessed, it shouldn’t be happening in our schools.”
Cheryl Rios, a speech teacher at Marguerite Maze Middle School, called on trustees to invest in new technology. “We have a teacher at Maze who does not have their own Chromebook. And so that teacher cannot get the day even started with attendance. And we have teachers throughout the district who have old Chromebooks, old computers.” she said. “And we can’t do too much these days if our technology is not quick.”
Wilson said this feedback will be taken into consideration as a plan for how the grant is developed.
Another area of increased funds is the $8.57 Million from the Learning Recovery Emergency Block Grant, which seeks to address “gaps in overall education that have happened since during this COVID time,” Wilson said.
A plan for how funds from this grant is under development and will come back to the board to be finalized.
Both grants, totaling $12 million, are one-time allocations that need to be spent by the 2027-28 school year.
Aside from categorical programs, Average Daily Attendance (ADA) can expect an additional $3.4 million in funding to provide extra coverage for funding that might have decreased during the pandemic when classes were held online.
“This district is going to go up by about 56 ADA funded. That is not the number of students that are going to be in our classrooms, that’s going to be what we’re funded on,” Wilson said.
These budget revisions come after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $300 billion state budget on June 30, which directs $128.3 billion for K-12 schools throughout the state. His signing made changes to HSD’s budget which was adopted two days prior.
The board’s presentation of budget revisions is required under Education Code 42127 (see item 11a), which calls on “school districts [to] review their adopted budget within 45 days of the governor signing the state budget for significant adjustments that may be necessary based on the enactment of the state budget.”
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