CalSTRS Creates Santa Barbara School District Deficit; 9 Teachers Laid Off

Facing insolvency, Santa Barbara’s Hope Elementary School district governing board laid off six full-time and three part time teachers, effective next academic year.

After years of deficits, the district’s general fund reserves have been exhausted. According to its 2016 audited financial statements, Hope’s general fund balance was negative $120,000 as of last June 30. The district’s auditor expressed doubt about whether Hope could continue as a “Going Concern”.

During the 2016 school year, general fund expenditures exceeded revenues by $132,000.  Among the district’s expenditures were a $146,000 contribution to CalPERS and a $458,000 contribution to CalSTRS.

According to the Santa Barbara Independent, the red ink reached $400,000 at the beginning of this year. With the annual increase in CalSTRS contributions looming in July, and a required $100,000 payment for special education services provided by Unified Santa Barbara School District, reducing the number of teachers became necessary. It is projected that roughly $700,000 will be saved in salary and benefits.

“I don’t want to lose these teachers — they are phenomenal.” Said Anne Hubbard, the district superintendent. “I don’t want to (cut teachers) — but we don’t have another choice at this point.”

Hope School District is considering a variety of additional measures, such as combo classes with multiple grades of students in one room, no instructional aides, and bigger classrooms. Hubbard even said that the district is considering closing one of its three schools. Administrative staff, including Hubbard, have taken voluntary cuts.

The district’s recovery plan includes implementing a 1% reserve this year, and increasing that to 4% and 5.4% percent reserves in the following two years. Hubbard admits that this is going to be very tough to meet.

The school may be able to right its course if it can cut its budget enough, but the real question is: where does that leave the students in the meantime?

Thanks to the Capitol Political Review for making us aware of this situation.  See their original post at http://www.capoliticalreview.com/capoliticalnewsandviews/another-calstrs-victim-santa-barbara-hope-school-district/

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