PARLIER, Calif. (KFSN) --Students will see bigger class sizes soon at Parlier Unified as district officials make painful cuts to next year's budget. Superintendent Edward Lucero said between layoffs and retirements the district will lose 27 employees, including four from the administration.
"And in order to be fiscally responsible, we need to adjust our budget accordingly. If we fail to do so by the year 2017, 2018 we will be operating in a deficit. Starting out the school year with a $400,000 deficit. So we certainly don't want to be there," said Lucero.
Lucero said the vacancies will bump classes sizes to 28-1 in K through third, and up to 32-1 in higher grades.
Community members are criticizing Parlier Unified for the cuts, saying the district should focus on other ways to save money.
"The board should look at making proper decisions that could maybe also reduce spending, so they can keep some of the teachers," said Alfonso Padron, parent advocate.
Parlier Unified has come under scrutiny in recent years. A grand jury report last summer criticized the district's management of money and lack of leadership. The superintendent's office has seen its share of turnovers.
"They need to start cutting where it's not hurting the children. They're hurting the children by cutting teachers," said Juan Sandoval, parent advocate.
A big contributor-- $18-million in grant funding for teachers-- has dried up. A majority of the teacher cuts will be from elementary schools. Six secondary teachers were also laid off.
Superintendent Lucero said he is here to stay and help the district become successful. He said the cuts are necessary to avoid a major deficit and subsequent state takeover.
"I think the solace is we are doing what's best for the district moving forward. We want to purposely plan and we want to work in complete transparency."
District officials will be meeting with the community Monday night about state funding. The meeting is taking place at 6:30 p.m. at Parlier High School's library.