Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

$2.5 Million Cut from Schools

$2.5 million is a lot of music and art classes and a there will no longer be foreign language training in the Santa Barbara School District. Surprisingly, the school board members voted to cut their salary in half in a gesture of goodwill. Nancy Harter and other school board members took a "hard swallow" Tuesday night -- see the full story at The Santa Barbara Newsroom.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

There will still be foreign language training in the high schools (in fact,they are looking at adding Chinese). It will just be cut back in the junior highs (might just be Spanish instead of Spanish, German, French, Latin or students might need to take the class on a high school campus, etc.). Still, it's a step in the wrong direction and very disappointing.

4/25/2007 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if Dr. Sarvis did the same. He received one raise earlier in the year with his contract extension...and then got another one with the teachers.

4/25/2007 11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They need to sell their unused real estate to the high bidder, rather than agonizing over whether they can ever get permission to build workforce housing. They should look at closing an elementary school and renting out the space. For cuts, they need to share the pain they are inflicting on the students and cut some major administration costs.

They shouldn't cut foreign languages at the Jr. High level. It's already misguided in light of when brains best learn languages to wait until Jr. High to learn a language. Waiting until high school makes it worse, not to mention more difficult for high school students pursuing a college-bound curriculum to fit all their classes into 4 years.

These cuts will lead to more white flight to private schools at the secondary level. With my kids in Goleta elementary schools, I'm pretty happy right now, and was thinking GVJH was going to be fine when they got there. But, if the school doesn't have electives, GATE, sports, and foreign languages when they reach that age, I'm going to have to look seriously at private schools.

I sure wish the Goleta Elementary district could take GVJH and Dos Pueblos away from SB School District. I'd trust the Goleta administrators, accountants, and school board to have the kids interests in mind. I have no faith in the portions of the SB school district higher in the org chart than the teachers and principals.

4/26/2007 12:21 AM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

Lower enrollments along with the state funding allocation is part of the cause. Perhaps a legal challenege of the funding system may be in order. Property taxes locally are the highest in the state matching real estate prices. The real estate prices drives families with children to other areas who get more funding and our local schools suffer because of the real estate market fueld migration. High growth areas create an imbalance to stable growth areas. I guess this is another casualty of unregulated capitalism so don't expect anything to change soon. This is tragic.

4/26/2007 6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well over 80% of school funding typically goes into salaries and benefits for teachers, staff and administrators. Directly and out the door with built in increases that have to also be funded every year on top of the salaries.

Health care costs rise and they often are automatically funded during the period of the contract taking money away from something else. Longevity pay is automatically added to basic salaries and benefits with no negotiations, which also has to be funded with new money taken from something else.

So what you have is an increasingly top heavy out-go of public school funding for salary and benefits as your basic engine driving the school budget. Before you even start thinking about finding money for programs, class room supplies, equiptment, buildings, maintenance, heat, water, electricity and all other daily and increasing operating costs.

Add to that mix declining enrollment and a state funding formula that only gives you more money if you have more students coming in to your schools and you have the classic recipe for the current situation.

Take out more money for salaries and you have less money to spend on programs and operating expenses.

While a 3% raise seems small, you have to apply that to that 80% plus amount of the entire school budget going out for salaries to realize that makes even less money available for the programs and operating costs that have to also be funded by a shrinking amount of basic state funds.

At least realize what the basics are before anyone starts attacking the painful solutions that will balance a budget.

Then let'e talk about some answers. Increasing salaries and benefits take money away from program and benefits. Ground zero. This problem is exacerbated when state funding decreases due to declining enrollment.

All public schools and colleges face the same situation including UCSB and SBCC - fewer students, less money, increasing daily operating costs means fewer programs and services.

How do we get around this besides letting go of some programs and hoping the higher salaries teachers get in return responds with creative daily teaching solutions to make up for loss of formal enrichement programs. Or parents who rally to the cause with sustained volunteer efforts.

4/26/2007 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe eliminating the tenure system, one year renewable contracts for teachers, and frequent teacher reviews would eliminate some dead wood longevity expenses and give new, younger teachers a chance. The new teacher hired might be better but when the layoff slips are sent out they will be the first one fired. These are private school parameters for teacher contracting, why not the same for the public school?

How much course work for students is remedial? Are we wasting too much money here?

Parents will pay for good schools and send their children to where the quality is. Good education should include languages, math, science, and literacy skills. Afterschool programs should provide rich and variable offerings.

Is the voucher program something that offers a an equal solution to all parents black, brown, or white? Somewhere and somehow the "fixed costs" are killing the mission of the schools.

4/26/2007 11:04 AM  
Anonymous go ahead and just call me a NIMBY anyway said...

I am shocked, SHOCKED that the school district is making drastic budget cuts only a few months prior to proposing a huge McMansions project that would fill the budget gap and restore the educational programs.

Then, if the city does not approve the inappropriately-placed, high-impact residential project, then the city is directly responsible for cuts in school programs, teenage crime, no language classes for college preparation, etc., etc.

This all the same playbook as how Cottage Hospital played them like a fiddle during the past few years, saying in so many words how that unless the neighborhood is not impacted outside the rules, then babies would die.

4/26/2007 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The teachers wanted a raise. This is the result. So what's the problem?

Private schools are there for a reason. Guess where my kids are going to go? bye bye public school

4/26/2007 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

State teachers unions control the educational agenda in California. They learned it was easier to buy state legislators than make local education policy sense.

And there is nothing you can do about it. It is now all about legislated job security; it is not about education.

The sooner this is understood - no exceptions -- the quicker one may be able to find solutions. Remember that the next time you get slick campaign brochures mailed to you by "friends" of education. These slick mailings and funded media pieces should be reason number one NOT to vote for the candidate.

You will never get rid of tenure because you will never get rid of the unions. Time to look for other solutions.

It is all about money, tax dollars and private discretionary funding. Driving more students into private education will shrink and starve the union beast. And California will be a lot poorer as a result. It is too bad it has come to this in public education.

But you saw what happened to Schwarzenegger when he accurately identified the problem. The unions just about took him down.

4/26/2007 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get people to stop having so many kids, solving the education and global warming crisis at the same time.

4/26/2007 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The teachers wanted a raise and knew they were voting for larger class sizes, which equals teacher layoffs.

The School Board should stay out of the residential real estate business. They should focus on educating kids.

4/26/2007 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the Santa Barbara teachers got the raise, did they identify which teachers would then get laid off?

Or were they taking advantage of natural attrition and simply not replacing them?

4/26/2007 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, if you take away 2/3 of the funding for jr high electives, how do you have enough teachers to require that students take something during their elective period? Do you pack the kids in 45 deep for just a few "electives"? Or, do you threaten to put the jr high kids out on the street early as with the recent "minimum day"?

4/26/2007 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One aspect of the budgetary bottom line: neither the federal government nor the state cares even one little bit about electives. Educational legislation and funding is all about standardized test scores. And the bizarre assumption of the testing process is that every single kid in the USA will be eligible for entry to the UC system... a situation that not only has never existed in human history but is, IMHO, not even desirable. When push comes to shove, electives will disappear. All the electives are good for is to raise the level of our culture, expand the personal horizons of kids and sometimes teach some occupational skills. None of those things will keep API scores up.

4/26/2007 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious where all these private schools are in this area that some of the bloggers are referring to, especially those that are affordable and not religious. My kids were in private schools and tuition isn't cheap. I found their tuition to be at least twice what a public school receives in funding. Then there are all those fund raisers and "annual gifting" campaigns and silent auctions, and on and on. When my kids transferred to public schools, I was surprised to see how little extra parents were expected to contribute.

4/26/2007 10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Park a kid in our excellent public libraries and let them explore on their own, and you have a superb elective.

Have our nicely paid teachers instill the love of learning by their own example and stop thinking spoon-feeding them mechanical electives matters.

Kids today are way too structured anyway. Give them the basics only at school and give it to them well and then inspire them to explore the many community resources that are already out there begging to be used.

We have museums with willing docents badly under-visited. We have after hours community recreation programs. We have SBCC dual enrollment college credit classes on highschool campuses. We have a killer new teen center.

Public libraries should be crawling with eager young minds instead of homeless slackers looking for a free place to pee.

And round up the slugs and put them in study hall where they bore themselves to death until something makes them want to perform and get out. Like a job where they have to learn people and performance skills.

4/26/2007 10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why teachers leave

Top 10 reasons cited by California teachers who quit or planned to quit teaching, or who planned to transfer out of their current schools, because of job dissatisfaction:

Percent saying each reason affected decision

Bureaucratic interference: 57%

Poor support from district: 52%

Low staff morale: 45%

Lack of resources: 42%

Unsupportive principal: 42%

Poor compensation: 41%

Too little decision- making authority: 405

Too little time for planning: 36%

Accountability pressures: 35%

Lack of teamwork: 35%


Note: Responses are from 220 current and former California teachers who participated in a 2005 online survey by the California State University Center for Teacher Quality.


Source: California State University Center for Teacher Quality

Los Angeles Times

4/27/2007 6:35 AM  
Anonymous wineguy said...

There are a lot of anti-union sentiments expressed whenever education is discussed. But a Teachers' Union is every bit as important as a Journalists' Union. It makes no sense to balance the schools budget by underpaying the teachers.

4/27/2007 8:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, electives probably lower API scores by keeping kids with lower scores from dropping out. Just another mixed up "incentive" from our testing culture.

4/27/2007 9:13 AM  
Blogger John Quimby said...

A Few Random Musings...

If you want to see for yourself how the schools are doing, look at the school performance data posted on the district website. Look at the number of kids who leave SB schools without meeting state requirements in at least one subject. Look at how those numbers skew further by ethnicity.

San Marcos expects to lose 10 staff positions next year. Sort of makes you wonder who is going to use the new gym and the indoor pool.

Maybe our priorities need to be re-ordered. Maybe we could find the dollars our schools need if our tax money wasn't tied up in "overseas investments."

Maybe if the central bank wasn't borrowing colossal amounts of money to float an administration which gives tax cuts to the rich we could fund education.

Maybe a fine non-union corporation like Halibuton will educate our kids for us. They seem to be able to get all the Federal funding they want.

You know, I'd do more to help if I could. But I owe a lot of money to VISA at 18.49% APR. (The current Fed Rate is 5.25%).

If I just wasn't working so hard to pay off my personal debt I'd have more time and money to invest in my own kids. But since I don't, you'll have to get someone else to do it for me. Just borrow all the money you need to pay for it.

I'm sure my kids will pay it back.

4/27/2007 9:52 AM  
Blogger cookie jill said...

The kids of the jewelry rattlers will still have these options...and more.

Only the poor kids won't.

If you have a society that does not teach arts appreciation, you can kiss the Orchestra, the Symphony, the Art Museum, the Natural History Museum, etc. goodbye because you will be then disassembling those who in later life will be going to these places.

4/27/2007 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point - we are "under-paying" our teachers.

At what pay level will teachers morale and performance go up. Please let us all know what this amount is so that teachers will not feel "underpaid".

There is no way we can so we can properly fund education in this state until we know exactly what will increase teachers morale for what they put on the table: 5-6 year post HS education/9 month year/ automatic health and retirement benefits, automatic longevity increments/ paid professional development, COLA and multiple paid holidays and sick leave.

Don't just talk in vague terms like "under-pay". Be specific. Let's bargain for it: we the tax payers pay you XYZ amount and you promise to deliver XYZ measurable goals for our students.

4/27/2007 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My guess it is a lot easier to keep whining a teacher is under-paid which excuses him or her from doing anything about under-performing.

Thus, there will never be an end of the complaint of being underpaid because any teacher who claims this is too lazy to either get out and do something that earns what he or she thinks he or she is worth.

Or do something constructive by staying in and making the system reward measurable performance.

We now are on a downward spiral - teachers claiming they are underpaid and not doing a darn thing about under-performing. Your unions are not helping you one bit.

Just the opposite. They have destroyed faith in public education. And the system will shrink, dry up and blow away. Then you will be relieved of your burden of being underpaid.

Your union mantra is poisonous. I am sorry you can not see this. But parents are voting with their feet. Wake up.

4/27/2007 12:34 PM  
Anonymous wineguy said...

@12:17: We did just bargain for it. And it seems like a fair bargain to me. But I see a lot of people who seem to imply that if the greedy Union hadn't demanded a pay increase (after how many years without...?) that the schools would still have all these fine programs. The Union is not to blame for declining enrollment.

4/27/2007 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Too many kids are going down the tube. Teachers can't redress the situation. Parents too have abandoned the effort. Some here believe all problems lead to Bush and the overseas effort and the Takfiris (They have the vote too) or the need for stronger Unions. The problem is obvious and one of whole cloth.

The is the way the American world ends folks--it's the decline and fall. Turn in you SUVs and your home equity loans. It's all over.

4/28/2007 6:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, most kids are good and parents are doing a good job. What has happened is a minority of kids have been allowed to tyranize the system and everyone now feels threatened.

But in no way is the problem as global as you are saying. But a few identifiable bad kids and bad parents, left unchecked, are bringing down the whole thing for everyone else.

It is time to stop this tyranny of the minority and isolate the known trouble makers and let the entire rest of the system thrive. How hard is this to do?

Seems impossible right now, but it shouldn't be. We have had enough of the minority of bad apples driving the rest of the system into the ground.

4/29/2007 1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need to protect minority rights.

4/30/2007 10:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to a quote from a School District Information Officer, the "recent raises agreed to by all parties" was the key reasons for the drastic cuts in education for junior high students. Doubtful that any student or parent or even any teachers understood what services to students would be cut as a result of the "vote" and/or "declining enrollment" and/or raises promised to management. Parents and students didn't vote. They had and have little information regarding alternatives. 90% or more of the cuts are at the expense of the most at-risk students in the 4th through 8th grades. After a recent, public and depressing tragedy showing why those students need more, not less, electives and time in school with teachers, after school and elective programs are gutted. The only administrator position cut was from a school site with at-risk students. The proposal by one Board Member to consider management cuts including the Information Officer position all lost by a 4-1 vote after the Superintendent, already enjoying the biggest percentage raise in the districts, protected his spokesperson.

4/30/2007 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are tough times for public schools in California. There are many ways to make your voice heard. Pay attention, write letters, or run for school board if you think you know a better way. Do your homework and get all of the facts before pontificating.

5/03/2007 7:30 PM  

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