Four elementary schools will have new principals in the Santa Barbara Unified School District this year. Superintendent David Cash invited reporters to the district office this week for his annual back-to-school talk. Surrounded by the four new female administrators, Cash introduced the newcomers – Veronica Binkley, Sierra Loughridge, Jacqueline Mora, and Colleen Million — and spoke about the changes he implemented soon after he first took the helm three years ago.
The biggest piece of news was that the district has hired about 90 new teachers this year, including 19 elementary teachers, 14 special education, 11 math, seven science, five English, five Spanish, and two music teachers, plus five psychologists and five counselors, and a host of others. The district hired 70 new teachers last year and 50 new ones the year before that. Many of the teachers are originally from Santa Barbara, Cash said.
These new teachers will enter classrooms as the district plans to further implement the Common Core State Standards this school year after it was first introduced in 2010. Though the Common Core does not directly translate into new curricula, new courses have been created as a handful of “teachers on special assignment” have spent two years researching and developing new teaching practices and assessments. In January, the school board voted to eliminate traditional math courses such as Algebra 1, Geometry, and Statistics and replace them with integrated math courses for students in grades seven through 12. Across the state, districts have to realign courses with the new standards.
Cash also mentioned the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), which documents the new state funding formula and allows districts to move from “rigid to flexible allocation of resources.” Dozens of people came forward at hearings held last school year to urge the district to spend its resources in a number of specific ways.
This summer was the biggest for construction in the past several years. Dozens of small and large construction projects are being paid for by bond measure money that voters passed in 2010. A facilities needs assessment will be presented to the school board in the near future, Cash said.
The Parent Resource Center, which is located on the lower level of the district offices, has grown since it first opened last year. The center is packed with books and resources for parents of children in special education. There will be twice as many discussion times for parents to learn and talk about a spectrum of issues, said Cheri Rae, who arranged the opening of the center. “It’s a great place for parents,” she added. “When they think there is no place to turn, they might want to come down and take a look.”