Members of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District Board of Education
Members of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District Board of Education unanimously approved several personnel and financial matters Tuesday night to address budget shortfalls. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A combination of classified employee layoffs, administrator furloughs, trimmed hours and unfilled positions will help the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District with its financial woes, but beloved teachers won’t face the budge ax.

On Tuesday night, the district’s board of education unanimously approved several personnel and financial matters due the structural deficit.

Under the plan, a now-vacant special education teacher who resigned won’t be replaced, and two teaching positions will be reduced from 1.2 full-time equivalent positions to 1.0, while an English’ teacher’s retirement will be backfilled with less senior staff. 

Additionally, voluntary acceptance of furlough days were approved for the superintendent and the Santa Ynez High principal and vice principal, business manager and three guidance counselors. 

The actions affecting certificated employees will add up to a savings of $199,564. 

The proposal leaves the physical education teacher position in place, saving the job of popular football coach Josh McClurg. 

Students, parents and staff spoke out a during a special meeting last week for saving McClurg’s job, along with another position for the popular auto shop program.

“Two wise women I know…both told me after last week, you’re pretty lucky because no one, especially high school teachers and coaches, ever get to hear the type of speeches about you that you were able to hear. Those only happen at funerals,” McClurg said Tuesday night. 

“I’m hoping that today will not be my funeral at Santa Ynez,” McClurg added. “I’m so thankful to have grown up in this community and be part of it to this day, and I hope to continue to be a Pirate for the rest of my life.”

While McClurg’s job has been saved, two classified employees will receive layoff notices — a staff services position that also works with the athletics program and the in-house supervisor slot that oversee students kicked out of classrooms.

“I would be disappointed in myself if I didn’t gently ask that you wait before deciding to cut Kathy Rick, Gordon Whyte and other valuable classified employees,” Athletic Director Cris Avery said.

Previous speakers have talked about keeping cuts away from students, but the jobs performed by classified employees targeted for elimination or reductions impact classrooms in various ways, Avery said.

‘I’m just here to say Kathy is invaluable to the faculty and Athletic Department, Gordon’s an asset to campus security and an immediate relief valve against major classroom disruptions that can occur,” Avery said. 

Cutting the office staff hurts teachers and students, math teacher Ashley Coelho added. 

“I will remind everyone that our office staff is family,” she said. “They bleed orange and black and go above and beyond for teachers and students.” 

Two other classified jobs, the registrar and an accountant, will go from 12 months to 10 months, while two administrators’ assistants will work 11 months, instead of 12.

The eliminations and changes to the classified jobs will save $155,696.

The board also reversed an earlier decision to spend $500,000 to repair a pothole-filled parking lot on campus. Instead, the district hopes to receive Proposition 51 funding to pay for the project.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.