Sunday, July 22 , 2018, 3:18 pm | Fair 79º


Community Shows Up in Force as School Board Prepares to Make $10 Million in Cuts

Santa Barbara district officials are urged to protect jobs, students and the classroom

The Santa Barbara school board will have to tear away $10 million in funding from district staff, faculty and every budget category imaginable on March 8, so Tuesday’s meeting drew a packed house.

Students, teachers, parents, nurses, counselors and coaches spoke to the board and advocated their own jobs, the jobs of their colleagues and the jobs of their role models. Each person had the same request about the painful budget cuts to come: Please don’t.

“We are slowly but surely not supporting our kids,” health assistant Sylvia Gutierrez said.

Coaches could lose their stipends, which work out to about $5 an hour. Nursing staffs could be reduced to one certified nurse for all 21 school sites. Counselors could go from working at a ratio of 480-to-1 to 680-to-1, and staff members at San Marcos High School contacted more than 3,500 students individually since August and thousands more in workshops for college preparation and beyond.

Class sizes could get bigger, programs could be completely stripped of funding, and there could be fewer units required to graduate high school.

“There is no low-hanging fruit; we picked all of it a long time ago,” board president Annette Cordero said.

Both the board and community members in attendance Tuesday said they wanted to keep the cuts as far away from the classroom and the students as possible.

Next week, the board will have to add up $10 million in cuts with and without negotiated items in case mediation doesn’t work out. Members also will make a restoration plan so that if unification goes through — with a possible $6 million bonus — and/or voters approve tax extensions in June, programs will be refunded in their priority order.

So far, the board wants to pursue negotiating more employee furlough days for administrative, classified and certified staff, which could save about $4 million. Members also have discussed shortening the school year by five days — but keeping instructional time the same by adding 10 to 15 minutes to each day — saving about $4 million.

Other structural suggestions include increasing class sizes of ninth-grade math, which is kept at 20-to-1 with the use of Measure H parcel tax funds and unrestricted general funds, and K-3.

Even before Tuesday’s meeting, a few Santa Barbara High School students held signs outside the district offices to protest cutting library technicians and library services, which would have a severe effect on hours and service levels.

Spokeswoman Barbara Keyani told Noozhawk that the district’s fiscal solvency plan includes the possible reduction of two full-time positions of certified librarians at secondary schools. If approved, eliminating the two positions would bring nearly $200,000 in savings for the district.

“It doesn’t say eliminated,” she said of the library changes, but that the hours would have to be reduced. How exactly that will play out hasn’t been determined.

Click here for the full list of possible cuts.

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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