Tuesday, April 22, 2008

School budget cuts move forward


After months of mulling over $4 million in budget cuts, the Santa Barbara School District’s Board of Education began the long process of tightening their belts last night before a standing room only crowd.
As of press time, the board had cut $3.2 million from the 2008-2009 budget, most of which would not directly impact student programs.

It was the final $800,000 to $900,000 that posed difficulties for the board, most of whom couldn’t agree immediately on how best to trim controversial positions, such as replacing certificated librarians with media technicians (a cost savings of $108,285), staffing all comprehensive high schools at parity (a reduction of $320,000) and eliminating five school psychologists, which could save $425,000.
These three items were the subject of the majority of discussion during public comment and were afforded the most care by the board.
The board did vote to save ninth-grade class size reduction for English, but had not yet determined whether or not they would eliminate reductions for math. If such a cut was made, the board could save up to $286,000 by reducing class sizes and thereby reducing staff.
The most controversial item on the cut on the list was removed from play by the board during an April 8 meeting. This potential cut would have eliminated 7.4 full-time teachers who instruct electives courses at junior high schools and would have saved the district $577,000.
While this decision was hailed by most, it upped the ante for the board on the remaining items.
Ramona Martin, a librarian at La Cumbre Junior High School, said certificated librarians do more than just stock shelves and order books. She said they teach children computer skills and provide a sanctuary for learning that might not exist if they weren’t there.
“Don’t kill good programs and don’t be dollar foolish,” she told the board.
Several junior high students told the board the library and the librarians that work at their schools are key components to their educations.
Some of the things the board voted to cut, or implement in order to generate cost savings, was the elimination of 2.85 full-time administrative positions, which will likely be assistant principals at junior high schools, impose a 10 percent reduction in all district office discretionary budgets and implement a number of energy efficiency measures.
One of the largest cuts (433,874) came after the board voted to reduce the number of instructional assistants, the majority of which would be cut from special education programs.
The board voted to cut elementary administrative positions at smaller elementary schools at a cost savings of $51,000 and increase the price on paid meals for school lunch, which will add $31,000 to the budget.
For more on this story, see tomorrow’s Daily Sound.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Public Education is still the cornerstone of privilege in our country. Since growing away from the small, school houses group learning model, much has evolved and changed for the better. With those changes came greater responsibilities and demands, such as providing free lunches, after school programs, programs for the disabled, etc… We as a community must and should be all working together to provide the very best education we can support. Simply relying on property taxes to cover all the costs of public education is never going to be adequate. Everyone is entitled to a free education, yet not everyone pays property tax, we need to pool our resources to help fill the gap.
There are many avenues to help enhance our local schools. The Santa Barbara Education Foundation has and continues to do wonderful work in this area and I encourage all to learn how they can help in making our schools the very best they can be. Get Involved.