Who’s to Blame for Woodland Hills’ Woes?
It was inevitable, the announcement made yesterday that the Woodland Hills School District would be revamping curriculum, school alignments, and shuttering three schools in order to “…make Woodland Hills an academically competitive school district again”. It is unclear when it was academically competitive previously but it is clear that the last decade has not been kind to the District’s enrollment, which fell 31%.
The school closings are supposed to save money, as were the school closings that occurred in 2009, which were recommended back in 2006 by a previous superintendent. Those were supposed to save money as well.
So, what hinders the District? One official has blamed state funding and the reluctance of the school board to raise taxes up to the Act 1 index each year, which the official feels other districts in the region have done, but it is not clear which ones. Woodland Hills is getting more money from the state now than it did in 2004-04 ($7 million). It is down $2.3 million since 2009-10, but Federal money is down $3.5 million since that year as well. So why does the state get the blame alone?
The District boosted taxes in 2007-08, 2009-10, and 2012-13. Does the official want Woodland Hills to mimic fast growing South Fayette, or merger-partner-in-waiting Cornell? Both districts increased taxes almost every year since 2006-07, but no one would reasonably argue that the two districts are headed in the same direction. The District could go over the index from now until it wants to and either get state exceptions to do so or put it on the ballot for the voters to approve or disapprove. The latter option would give District officials a clear indication of what communities feel about the changes.