Santa Barbara Unified School District officials will meet today to discuss possible solutions to offset the district’s $2.6 million structural deficit.
The SBUSD aims to make $6 million in budget cuts over the next fiscal year to eliminate its financial shortfall and account for Governor Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 state budget. According to the district’s website, the board will weigh in on several options including layoffs, furloughs and reorganizing the district office.
School Board Vice President Monique Limón said school administrators will need to choose a course of action quickly due to the March 15 deadline to notify teachers about layoffs.
“The cuts are a response to the state cuts that have been made to education,” Limón said. “Our school district is not alone in this situation. At this time, the state of California requires that we notify teachers whether they are being considered to be laid off by March 15.”
According to the SBUSD webpage, the district’s deficit could grow to over $11 million if not immediately addressed.
Although the board will review several options during today’s meeting, Limón said drastic measures will likely be necessary in order to cut spending.
“We have not voted yet, but the two main considerations are permanent teacher layoffs and furlough days,” Limón said.
According to Limón, cuts to any aspect of the district will inevitably reduce the quality of education.
“There is a series of things we will review, but they are all things that will absolutely have an impact on student learning,” Limón said.
Third-year mathematics major Claudia Hernandez, a pre-professional volunteer at San Marcos High School, said high pupil-to-teacher ratios make it difficult for students to get the most out of their classroom experience.
“One of the classrooms I observe has about 19 students, allowing the teacher to spend a significant amount of time with each student,” Hernandez said. “His second class has more than 30 students, and it is increasingly more difficult for the teacher to give each student an adequate amount of time.”
Hernandez said the circumstances will likely lead to less attentive students who do not retain as much material.
“In a larger classroom, I tend to see more students not paying attention, on their phone and talking,” Hernandez said. “It is much harder for a teacher to control his students in a larger classroom. By permanently decreasing the number of teachers and making classes larger, it is only going to make learning more difficult for students.”