Hart District to save $500K by moving graduations

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: Graduating seniors celebrate as they march into the Canyon High School graduation ceremony held at College of the Canyons in Valencia last year. Dan Watson/The Signal

Bringing about a change for next year’s graduation schedule, three of the William S. Hart Union High School District’s senior classes will be graduating at 8:30 a.m. next year — saving the district as much as $500,000.

Citing both academic and financial reasons, graduates for Golden Valley, Canyon and Saugus high schools’ class of 2020 won’t be graduating in the evening hours, but rather the morning hour, according to Dave Caldwell, spokesman for the Hart District.

“Our core mission is to educate students and the main thing we need to do is maximize opportunities for instruction, and minimize the number of days that seniors are not in school,” Caldwell said. “Any time students aren’t in class, there is an educational and financial impact.”

The district, according to Governing Board Member Joe Messina, has approximately 500 students per graduating class across Valencia, Golden Valley, Saugus, Hart, Canyon and West Ranch. The amount of funding the district receives is based on daily attendance and how long students are on campus daily, and early graduations, testing and other end-of-the-year factors cut into funding, he said.

“We lose a lot of instructional days, and it amounts to being close to half a million dollars,” due to the previous graduation schedule, Messina said. “You get more instructional days in, because every kid needs that, and it does save the district money.”

The district will also save money on the Cougar Stadium rental costs by shifting to a two-graduation-a-day schedule, according to Eric Harnish, a spokesman for College of the Canyons. The amount to be saved was not immediately available Thursday afternoon.

Last year, for instance, Golden Valley graduated at 7 p.m. on May 30, but will now graduate on June 2 at 8:30 a.m. Canyon and Saugus will graduate in the morning on June 3 and 4, respectively.

Student attendance is one of the most important factors that can impact student learning as well as a district’s annual revenues, school officials say.

“The change came about so that seniors can be in attendance at their school through the end of the school year,” said Caldwell. “Attendance and instructional time are the things we are maximizing.”

Caldwell said that in order to accommodate for the teachers, friends of the students and siblings in schools, the district has planned for reverse minimum days at the three schools, meaning the school day starts later. For those family members who are unable to attend the graduation, the district suggested using the live stream to view.

“For any family members that cannot be in attendance at a graduation, we are live streaming all the graduations,” Caldwell said.

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