The painful conversation has begun at Hope Elementary School District about the $800,000 hole in which the district now sits. The debt was due to rapidly rising costs in special education and “a critical update” missed last year by the district’s former business manager, said school board-member Chris Gallo, speaking to a few hundred concerned parents and teachers recently. Where cutting will occur is the focus of the district’s two-year recovery plan, approved by the Santa Barbara County Education Office. So far, suggestions have ranged from slashing classroom assistants and custodial and library hours, and even closing one of the district’s three elementary school campuses.


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