More School District Cuts

Thanks to the undeniably dire realities of the current state budget crisis as well as a recently discovered $500,000 daily attendance snafu at the high schools, the Santa Barbara School Board began looking this week at ways to whittle away some $1.5 million more from its budget, just six weeks after it cut $3.1 million. Required to file its budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year by the end of June, the board will be making the final decisions on these unprecedented slashes-cuts lessened somewhat by federal stimulus package funds and the elementary district’s soon-to-be “basic aid” status-at a special meeting on June 16. In a report presented by Deputy Superintendent Eric Smith, the board was given a list of possible cuts for the new budget as well as preemptive cuts in the 2010-11 budget. Areas identified for next week’s special hearing included eliminating elementary district groundskeepers, increasing class size in grades k-3 as well as ninth-grade English. Things like cutting school psychologist positions, reducing certificated teachers of junior high elective classes, and doing away with out-of-district high school transfers were also put on the table, though they likely won’t be decided upon until fall. The board also brainstormed other ideas, most of them not likely to be able to be implemented until next year if at all, to be fleshed out next week-such as work furloughs for administrators, across-the-board pay cuts for teachers and administrators, and the possibility of developing a “golden handshake” policy for near-retirement-age teachers.

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