Recent budget cuts lead to a removal of three Buena counselors
June 15, 2023
California requires all public school districts to show they are financially stable every three years. Districts need to reserve 3 percent or more of their approved budget. As a result of these standards three of Buena’s counselors, Matthew Lazansky, Jacob Amaro, and Tatum Maciel, will be cut for next school year.
Often, these inspections lead to budget cuts. The district will evaluate the budget for programs and extracurricular activities at each school site and decide what cuts should be made. For VUSD, cuts are made based on the school size, declining enrollment, and loss of grant funding. Based on the data for Buena, it was determined that Lazansky and Amaro would be let go, due to lack of funding for their positions
“All staffing decisions come from the district level,” Principle Audrey Asplund said. “So the amount of teachers we have, the amount of secretaries, the amount of campus supervisors, counselors, all of it is done at the district level.”
Amaro was a CTE, career and technical education, and EL, English learners, counselor, his position was a temporary grant funded position, which means he is not guaranteed a new job from the district.
“With grant funded positions, you never know how long those will last. But I did not think it would just be one year,” Amaro said.
Amaro’s role provided an emotional connection for students, in addition to the academic support he provided. Many were able to talk to him about their personal struggles and home life. Communication with EL students had greatly improved with a third person and a counselor view.
“I [have the] data perspective, he has the social emotional lens,” English learner monitor and teacher Kelly Herrera said. “We balance each other out.”
Lazansky was a student assistance counselor. He ran several groups throughout the five years he worked for Buena, including Alateen, grief counseling, and anger management. Unlike Amaro, his position was permanent so he is guaranteed a job within the district and will be moved to Ventura high school.
“This is a really great program so I was shocked, but every year it is possible,” Lazanksy said.
At this time, students that Lazansky worked with have declined to be interviewed.
Amaro and Lazansky’s departure does not mean other resources will not be available for students. The Wellness center, due to funding, will still be around for at least as long as the grant allows.
“The Wellness Center has their own criteria, I think that it is possible that some things can be run through [them],” Lazansky said. “But the administration will have to find teachers or counselors willing to facilitate the more intense groups.”
This past school year there have been two advisers for the Wellness Center, but administration is still looking for a new permanent adviser. This will determine the Wellness Center’s activity despite its funding.
According to Lazansky, while not guaranteed, it is the school’s intention for someone to fill in Lazansky’s place and take over some of the groups he had run.
“[Some of these] programs have been around for nearly twenty years,” Lazansky said. “I’m confident the administration and our other council colleagues will pick that up.”
Herrera does believe that next year will be a challenge for herself and EL teacher Antoinette Perez with Amaro’s absence.
“It is going to be a challenge for EL students, a lot of them are on radar,” Herrera said. “When their academic issues are not being met they [can] act out, and he connects with those kids.”
The final position cut will be academic counselor Maciel. Her absence means more students on the caseload for the other college and career counselors. The loss of these positions may result in a fewer social and emotional supports for students on campus.
We, [VUSD], imagine that we will face continued elevated mental health needs, which will be addressed by a combination of school-based interventions, agency referrals, and a combination of site and district-based personnel, — assistant superintendent of education Gregory Bayless
We, [VUSD], imagine that we will face continued elevated mental health needs, which will be addressed by a combination of school-based interventions, agency referrals, and a combination of site and district-based personnel,
— assistant superintendent of education Gregory Bayless
“We, [VUSD], imagine that we will face continued elevated mental health needs, which will be addressed by a combination of school-based interventions, agency referrals, and a combination of site and district-based personnel,” assistant superintendent of education Gregory Bayless said in an email interview.
With the last week of school Amaro and Lazansky continue to help students as they always had. The mark they have left on Buena and its students will continue even as the school year comes to an end.
“I think I did good work here, I am proud of everything I did,” Lazanksy said. “I had the chance to become part of the school and have it become part of me, I think I left [Buena] better than when I got here.”
Update: As of the 23-24 school year, Maciel is now the Wellness Center adviser, continuing to help students and keep the organization active.