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Santa Barbara School Board Approves $106 Million Budget, Local Control Accountability Plan

The Santa Barbara Unified School District board on Tuesday night unanimously approved its 2014-15 budget and Local Control Accountability Plan, which includes a three-year plan to comply with statewide student achievement goals.

This is the first budget under the new Local Control Funding Formula that completely rearranges how K-12 education is funded. California is trying to get funding back to previous levels, and for Santa Barbara Unified that would mean getting a $122 million budget by 2020-21.

Some state funding is allocated based on the percentage of low-income, English Learner and foster youth students in a district; Santa Barbara Unified is barely short of qualifying for an extra $500,000 in funding. There are efforts to identify more students who are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program (which is how low-income students are counted) to boost that percentage. It's currently at 54 percent and has to be above 55 percent to get the additional funding. 

It’s frustrating to be this close, board president Kate Parker said, but the district is still getting more funding this year than past years. The $106 million this year should increase to $122 million over the next seven years.

With increasing entitlements from the state, it’s unlikely the district will go into basic aid, where local property taxes exceed the state allocation for education. Santa Barbara only went into basic aid briefly because the district had its funding cut by 22 percent, dropping it below local property tax revenues, according to assistant superintendent of finance Meg Jette.

The 2014-15 year budget includes the cost of November’s school board election, which is around $100,000 paid to the County Elections Office, and a substantial increase in retirement costs.

The district will pay $781,000 more next year between the State Teachers’ Retirement System and Public Employees’ Retirement System, Jette said, and those expenses are increasing every year.

Individual schools still have to come up with their own funding plans for next year and some ended up with more or less funding than before, Superintendent Dave Cash said.

The district plans to increase its reserve levels every year, but if Gov. Jerry Brown’s rainy day fund proposal is passed by voters in November, there will be a cap, Jette said. The 6 percent cap wouldn’t even fund a whole month of salaries and benefits.

The Santa Barbara County superintendent of education needs to approve every district LCAP and budget by fall. 

At Tuesday's meeting, several parents thanked the district for its work on the LCAP, particularly the plans for English Learner students and parent engagement. The LCAP is similar to a Strategic Plan with goals and action plans for student achievement. 

Included in the plan was a new management position that the Board of Education approved Tuesday night, an English Language Learner Education Programs director. This employee will develop a parent engagement program and implement objectives for English Learner education. The candidate has to be bilingual and will be paid $131,312, according to district staff.

With board approval, the job position will be posted on EdJOIN and TeacherMatch, according to the human resources department.

A similar position was eliminated from the district in 1997 due to “budget constraints,” a staff report said.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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