DOWN ON DOUGH The school is struggling to make ends meet after losing almost 20 percent of last school years budget. Extracurricular programs might need to be scaled back due to this enormous cut
DOWN ON DOUGH The school is struggling to make ends meet after losing almost 20 percent of last school year’s budget. Extracurricular programs might need to be scaled back due to this enormous cut
THE MIRROR | KIMBERLY PEREZ

Budget cuts reduce school funding by millions

The loss of $4 million is forcing the school to cut back drastically on some programs and clubs, leading to less enriching learning opportunities and an overall dissatisfied school community.

This school year, the school is down $4 million in funding from the district.

In the 2022-23 school year, the school had $26,609,880 available in the budget. For the 2023-24 school year, there is only $21,809,846 available. 

This reduction in funds is due to the discontinuation of the per-pupil program and covid-19 relief programs, which, according to the school Budget Availability Report, paid for some staff member’s salaries, substitute teacher salaries, office supplies and other general supplies for classrooms.

Now that funds from these portions of the budget are no longer available, the school has to rely on funds from the general budget. The per-pupil and covid-19 relief programs were outside of the general budget, therefore the school had not needed to use general funds to pay for the things the programs covered.  

While the upcoming shortage of funds is not ideal, the educational needs of the students will come first when making future decisions.

“Although concerning, we will always prioritize essential resources, such as necessary classroom materials, for our students when budgeting,” Title 1 Coordinator Ms. Milagro Medrano said.

This is the first time that anything like this has happened to the school.

“It is not really a budget cut like in the past,” Assistant Principal Mr. Marc Strassner said. “The school funds, programs and money are being taken back by various funding entities, some being redistributed, others simply ending.”

Certain programs, yet to be determined, will be receiving a cut in funds or may be discontinued in order to accommodate the lack of funding. Those most likely to be affected are clubs, sports and other extracurriculars. Funded school trips might also become a thing of the past.

“We will have to be more mindful and say no to things that maybe aren’t as urgent,” Ms. Medrano said.

Athletic Director Mr. Dion Coley says that the extreme budget cuts have yet to affect the Athletics Department.

“Sports are funded by the Athletics section of the budget and, as of now, that budget has not changed,” he said.

Even though the Athletics Department has not yet been affected, given the amount of money the school no longer has available, Mr. Coley believes this could change in the future.

“So far the cuts haven’t hit athletics yet, but I am sure it is coming,” he said.

He went on to say that he and other members of the school community have been left in the dark about what programs budget cuts are affecting.

“I have gotten phone calls from others asking if the cuts have affected sports,” Mr. Coley said. “Many are still unsure as to which programs are experiencing budget cuts.”

Performing Arts Coordinator Ms. Fanny Arana says that the performing arts program has faced a large cutback in funds. As of now, the program is no longer able to fund choreographers, costume designers, carpenters and light technicians for school productions.

“Some of the basic foundations of the Performing Arts program is bringing in outside vendors to support and assist in our productions, and we now no longer have the money to do it,” Ms. Arana said.

In addition to not having the funds for outside vendors, the Performing Arts Department no longer has sufficient funds to pay staff for the extra time they spend helping with practices and productions.

“Multiple staff members used to get paid extra hours to supervise events, performances and rehearsals,” Ms. Arana said. “Now those staff members are working for free.” 

All of these setbacks caused by the budget cuts have left students and admin who are part of the Performing Arts Magnet exasperated. 

Ms. Arana stresses that it seems like the trajectory of their program keeps receding with no solutions in store for the foreseeable future.

“Our goal is to always find ways to grow our program, and right now it just feels like we are taking so many steps backward that we are not moving forward,” Ms. Arana said. “And that is extremely frustrating.”

The magnet programs are facing consequences, as there will no longer be enough funds for administrators to attend magnet conferences. The school has one of the top magnets in the nation, and these conferences help teach admin what other successful schools are doing, as well as different ways to grow the magnet program.

“We have so many amazing programs at Van Nuys High School,” Ms. Arana said. “However, this year, a majority of them will no longer be able to happen. To put it simply, it sucks.”

Not having as much money to fund the school has affected both teachers and students. The consequences have upset many, including sophomore Kyrstelle Arcinas who is a member of the school choir program and Model United Nations (MUN) club.

“It upsets me that our school has lost so many funds because it means having to divide the already small budget between all our programs,” Arcinas said. “I’ve seen multiple examples of the cuts in effect, like having difficulty paying for the MUN conference and no longer having an accompanist or choreographer in choir.”

Science teacher Ms. Peggy Shim says that the cuts have not only affected the school’s programs but the overall morale of the school community.

“Many people feel demoralized,” Ms. Shim said. “The general consensus is that students and staff feel disappointed.”

Though the budget cuts are disheartening, there are ways that the school can lessen the effects.

Ms. Medrano explains that the household income forms can help the school gain more funding. This is why they have been persistently encouraging all students to fill them out.

“Household income forms are how we get Title I money for the school,” she said.

Mr. Strassner adds that sports teams and clubs can also help the school by fundraising on their own. This way, programs will not have to solely rely on the district for funds.

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About the Contributor
Mia Ramirez, Staff
I never thought that one day I would sit and write news stories all the time. When I was little the only thing I liked to write about was fairytales and popstars. Now that I am older the focus of my stories have shifted. As a staff writer for The Mirror, I write stories that focus on real people and what they have to say.  I have written multiple stories for the paper and I continue to search for new stories wherever I go. Outside of journalism, I am the captain for Van Nuys’ cross Country team and am constantly looking for new ways to make people smile.
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