Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 8:57 am | Partly Cloudy 60º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara Schools Bracing for More Cuts, to the Tune of $5.6 Million or More

Unifying the districts, a move that now only needs approval from the county, is expected to help offset costs

Even with Gov. Jerry Brown’s assurance that K-12 education won’t receive additional cuts, the Santa Barbara School District is preparing for the worst.

Deputy Superintendent Eric Smith said the 2011-12 school year is likely to bring $5.6 million in cuts at this point, and closer to $10 million if the taxes expiring in June aren’t extended.

From 2007-08 to 2010-11, K-12 education sustained massive cuts of 14.5 percent, budget documents show, which was the reason Brown advocated some relief next year if the taxes are extended.

One strategy for saving money is unifying the two districts, and the school board moved the effort forward Tuesday night, so it now only needs to be approved by the county.

Board members will serve out their terms, and the secondary district’s boundaries will become the new single district’s boundaries. Combining them could save up to $6 million and won’t require balancing salary schedules since they’re equal across the two districts, staff said.

On the issue of salaries, the board approved a one-time 2 percent bonus for the Santa Barbara Teachers Association that was negotiated in November to help offset rising health costs. Funds came from the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act of 2010, which can only be used for hiring, rehiring or compensation costs.

SBTA president Layne Wheeler thanked the board, saying health-care costs have been rising 8 percent to 10 percent on an annual basis.

Board member Ed Heron was the dissenting vote, saying the $976,758 could be used to keep class sizes small, eliminate furlough days or save 11 teaching jobs for the next school year.

“It’s hard to justify almost $1 million in bonuses when we’ll be making cuts within weeks,” he said.

The other members struggled with the decision, but said holding onto teachers for another year wouldn’t help in the long run, and the money will “ease some of the pain,” Susan Deacon said.

The district needs bargaining units to “be there with us” through the round of cuts, and board member Kate Parker said anything that helps teachers for the upcoming year is worth it.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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