In anticipation of severe cutbacks, the Santa Barbara school board late Tuesday authorized administrators to deliver pink slips to 64 tenured teachers.

The move was made as the board prepares to cut $3 million from the Santa Barbara School Districts’ $120 million budget later this spring.

It doesn’t necessarily mean the district will lay off 64 teachers. Instead, the pink slips are in essence a legally mandated warning that administrators must deliver to teachers by March 15 that their services might not be needed in the fall. The layoffs will affect all of the K-12 grades.

Last year, for instance, the district sent out 50 pink slips, yet all but one of the teachers were re-hired.

Administrators expect this year to be different, however.

“There will be a lot that aren’t coming back,” said Deputy Superintendent Eric Smith.

Administrators said the factors necessitating the cutbacks include declining enrollment, California’s budget projections and a recent board decision to stop accepting transfer students in the elementary district.

Smith said the district spends an average of $85,000 in salary and benefits per teacher per year. He added that he hopes some of the estimated $3 million in cuts can come from nonpersonnel-related expenses.

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— Noozhawk staff writer Rob Kuznia can be reached at