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Santa Barbara School District Deputy Superintendent Eric Smith Resigns

District offers no explanation for his departure, with board member Ed Heron saying the news comes as a complete surprise

Eric Smith, the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s deputy superintendent for business and noninstructional operations, announced his resignation Thursday.

Smith joined the district as an interim chief business officer in November 2007 and became deputy superintendent in March 2008. During those three months in an interim position, he identified $780,000 in budget savings, which was indicative of his future with the district.

He has been widely applauded for making unification a reality in an unprecedentedly short amount of time, which secured an additional $6 million per year in savings for the district, and finding other creative financial solutions as the district navigates the fallout from lower state funding.

Smith’s contract was renewed by the Board of Trustees earlier this year, so the announcement was a complete surprise, board member Ed Heron told Noozhawk.

“I’m just in a state of shock,” he said, adding that he received a phone call from Superintendent Dave Cash on Thursday afternoon with the news, but without explanation. “I sure hope there’s a good reason for it. I hope there’s something much better for him.”

Heron said Smith’s talents have become important to the district, especially with his triumph of getting unification.

“He’s leaving us in a very, very good financial condition, and as far as I know there are no hidden things that could come to light,” he said.

Smith’s last day will be Dec. 31, and the district said it will create an interim plan for his department in the meantime.

“Eric Smith has made a significant contribution to the fiscal health of the Santa Barbara Unified School District,” Cash said in a statement. “His service to the district is valued and he will be missed.”

In September, Smith was recognized by the Association of School Business Officials International and given a lifetime achievement award for his work in school business management.

Smith had previously worked as a deputy superintendent for the Berkeley Unified School District, management analyst for the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team, deputy superintendent for the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, assistant superintendent in Paso Robles and assistant superintendent for Eureka City Schools.

He was a team leader for a Santa Barbara district report from FCMAT and was recommended to the districts by the Santa Barbara County Education Office, according to a 2007 news release.

Noozhawk staff writer 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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