The Santa Barbara Unified School District received an out-of-the-blue bill this month from the California National Guard Grizzly Youth Academy Charter School for $132,243.

The July bill came as a surprise to the district because it had no idea that 39 of its students were attending the school at 721 Mendocino Ave., San Luis Obispo.

“It is not fun, but we’ll pay it,” said Meg Jetté, the district’s director of fiscal services. “It’s our kids, so we’ll pay for them.”

Santa Barbara Unified’s Board of Education approved the payment at last week’s meeting, which will come from the district’s property tax revenues.

According to district staff, the charter school is a boarding school for students between the ages of 16 and 18 who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out.

The school itself was approved as a charter by the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education.

Cadets at the California National Guard Grizzly Youth Academy Charter School “are introduced to the military structure, participate in team building activities, practice making healthy choices, attend school daily, gain organizational and study skills, participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities, and receive the support they need to turn their lives around,” the organization’s website states. 

Santa Barbara Unified is obligated to pay for the students who live within its boundaries, even if they attend a charter boarding school outside those boundaries.

“The kids have lost their way and need something different,” Jetté said.

Jetté said she has since talked to officials at the charter school and that next year, Santa Barbara Unified will get an invoice earlier if any of its students attend the school.

“I have been here 11 years and this has never happened,” she said. “It’s not normal.”

She said the financial impact of the surprise bill is roughly equivalent to the cost of a teacher.

“It’s a $132,000 I didn’t think I would lose,” Jetté said. “Any money out is a financial impact.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Joshua Molina

Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at