Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 1:57 pm | Mostly Cloudy 68º


Santa Barbara Unified School District Considers Cuts to Close $2.5M Budget Shortfall

As the Santa Barbara Unified School District braces for a $2.5 million cut, officials are confident they can pinpoint savings as they finish the school year and develop next year’s budget.

Superintendent Cary Matsuoka outlined the details plans to balance the 2017-18 budget at last week's school board meeting. 

The district anticipates achieving the savings by reducing staffing in alignment with enrollment data and finding savings in the district’s operational budgets, according to a staff report.

“We are starting to experience declining enrollment,” Matsuoka said. “The biggest savings is getting our staffing to match our declining enrollment.”

Some reduction strategies have changed since the partial plan was brought forward in February and district officials are still working to close the gap. 

The Elementary Gifted and Talented (GATE) Program and Secondary Advanced Learning Programs coordinators will remain in the budget — both were cut in the proposed February plan.

The elementary staffing reduction number hiked to seven full-time positions, compared the four full-time positions in February’s report. One full-time position saves about $80,000, according to the district. 

Four full-time secondary positions would be reduced through the design of the district’s master schedules, according to a staff report. 

The district will also close a portion of the budget shortfall by pulling a phone system contract, which will bring a $246,000 savings. 

Open Alternative School has seen enrollment drop in recent years and district staff recommend downsizing as a possibility in February. 

The 2016-17 school year enrollment declined to 84 students, compared to 138 in the 2015-16 year.

Final recommendations about the future of OAS will be presented to the board when the district receives student registration numbers for next year. 

OAS is located at 4025 Foothill Rd. in the back of the La Colina Junior High School campus and provides an open and alternative educational experience for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Matsuoka said he hopes to have final budget recommendations to the district's Board of Education in April, and voted and approved in June.

View the superintendent's plan to close the $2.5 million budget gap by clicking here.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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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