Monday, April 23 , 2018, 8:25 pm | Fair 54º


School Finance Chief Resigns Amid Budget Confusion

 Ed Diaz resignedabruptly Friday, several months after the discovery that last year’sdeep budget cuts were unnecessary.

The Santa Barbara public school system’s top finance official resignedabruptly Friday, several months after the discovery that last year’sdeep budget cuts were unnecessary.

Assistant Superintendent of Business Ed Diaz, who had been on thejob for less than a year, left the K-12 school system to “pursue otheropportunities,” said Barbara Keyani, the communication director forSanta Barbara public schools.

Keyani said Tuesday she wasn’t sure what opportunities he is pursuing. She said he was not fired, but did not know whether his departure had anything to do with the districts’ budget issues. 

Diaz commuted to Santa Barbara from Ventura, and had previously heldthe same post at the Oxnard School Districts. In Santa Barbara hissalary was $125,560.

Keyani said the search to replace him has begun; but interviews forthe position are not scheduled to take place until February. In themeantime, the position most likely will be filled on a temporary basisby a consultant named Eric Smith, who charges $1,000 per day plusexpenses. Staff’s recommendation to hire Smith will be among many items in the consent calendar for tonight’s school board meeting, Keyani said. The consent calendar consists of a batch of items the board typically approves with limited or no discussion.

In April, the school board acted on the erroneous assumption that itneeded to cut $2.5 million in programs. Elementary music and juniorhigh electives took a huge hit. But in June, the board learned that,due to an administrative miscalculation, its coffers had contained atleast $2.3 million more than was accounted for. All told, the schoolboard now has a budget surplus of around $2.8 million.

In the aftermath of the discovery, financial services director BobWolf resigned, and the school board invited two school financialconsulting firms to make bids for a contract in Santa Barbara.

Diaz started the job on Nov. 1 after his predecessor, Mary Stark, tooka job in the Lucia Mar School District. At the time, the board wasalready talking about having to make significant cuts to bankroll aunion-negotiated raise for teachers.

Diaz, who has 13 years’ experience in school financing, also has 20years’ experience in the private sector food industry, doing operationswork with companies such as Carrows, Famous Restaurants and the localSambo’s.

Diaz earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and financefrom California State University, Long Beach, and a master’s degree ineducational administration and school business specialization fromCalifornia State University, Los Angeles.

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