District Superintendent Brian Sarvis
Paul Wellman (file)

One bullet point in a slide show presented to a joint meeting of the Santa Barbara City Council and Board of Education yesterday by School District financial guru Eric Smith read, “Failure to negotiate furlough days will result to cuts in people and programs.” Thus the district drew a line in the sand for upcoming union negotiations.

Whether or not faculty and staff accept a proposed 10 furlough days, the Santa Barbara School District needs to close the gap on a possible $10 million budget shortfall. Should Governor Brown figure out a political maneuver to extend temporary tax hikes set to expire in June, it would alleviate the district’s expenses to the tune of $19 per student.

Plans to unify the Santa Barbara high school and elementary school districts would also preserve about $6 million. Smith said he is optimistic the state will approve unification, but he isn’t banking on it.

While during public comment area resident Kate Smith said that the Santa Barbara School District was part of an education-politico-industrial complex (when she wasn’t castigating Councilmember Dale Francisco for reading while she was speaking or arguing with Boardmember Annette Cordero about how much time she was allowed to speak about agenda items), the meeting featured the district’s efforts at gang intervention and prevention.

Santa Barbara Junior High teacher Marc Fidel, who heads the CORE (California Outreach Recreation and Education) program to keep at-risk youth engaged in school, screened a short video touting the program’s benefits. Fifty-five percent of the 15 male students improved their GPA at least one full point this year. (There is also a class of 15 females.) The program aims to expand the students’ breadth of experience outside of home and school, so they participate in outings such as surf trips or buying shirts and ties.

Fidel said his CORE students are “opportunity deficient … yet we are asking them to do the same things” as students without the same challenges. He and fellow CORE teacher Tammy Hogan visited the homes of all the students in their classes. “It really opened my eyes to what they bring with them to school every day,” he said.

Board and councilmembers received Fidel with universal acclaim, although City Councilmember Frank Hotchkiss asked how many of the students were from families that are new to the country.

Annette Cordero said: “There is lots of magic in humanity and compassion,” before shedding some on outgoing Superintendent Brian Sarvis. When the board provided an update on their search for a new superintendent, Cordero said she’d like to find a Sarvis “clone.” Unless Sarvis was part of a top-secret government program to create extra-uterine replications of public school administrators, it looks like the board will choose from a nationwide applicant pool which currently stands at 52. Interviewees will be chosen on May 21 and interviewed on May 25-26 with a decision scheduled for mid June.


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