It is amazing to think that we have already reached the midway point in the 2009/2010 school year. The District is already closed for the holidays, with students and staff enjoying time with family and friends until classes resume on January 4, 2010.


In October, I shared information about our District's Core Value of providing a quality education. This month, I'd like to address another of our Core Values - the issue of Fiscal Responsibility.


We are bombarded daily with news about the State of California's financial difficulties. Unfortunately, we at Hesperia Unified are not immune to such difficulties.


In order to fulfill our mission of educating the youth of Hesperia, we must remain fiscally solvent. Even after drastic cuts and the loss of a number of our employee, we are still facing a deficit of at least $8 million for the 2010/2011 school year. Although federal stimulus money allowed us to keep and hire a number of employees, and maintain education programs and the associated personnel, this supplemental aid is only available for one school year. In some ways, it has given a false sense that things were not as bad as they seemed.


To address this challenge, I created a Budget Advisory Group comprised of District stakeholders: teachers, classified employees, managers and parents. Instead of simply looking at what we can "cut" from the budget, we are going through a process of identifying what is important to us as an organization. These priorities have been turned into objectives that will be used to evaluate suggested cuts. As we go through this budget reduction process, it is my goal to minimize the impact on what we value as a school district. This is not an easy process, and will require sacrifices.


It is my belief that there is a willingness on the part of all District employees to work together to deal with the budget challenge. During the holiday season, we are reminded of the value of family and friends. And, like a family, it is during difficult times that we must pull together to face the "storms" of life. In our own homes, we are thinking creatively to find ways to save money. Hopefully, we will be able to apply that same ingenuity to our HUSD budget.


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Beginning in mid-January, I invite you to visit my Superintendent's Blog. It is my goal to use this technological tool as yet another way to communicate and gather input from the community. The Blog will be a link from our Hesperia Unified School District Website: www.hesperia.org. In addition, please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, or concern as they relate to HUSD by emailing me at mark.mckinney@hesperia.org.


May the joy of the Christmas season fill your hearts and homes.


Mark McKinney is superintendent of the Hesperia Recreation and School District.