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Breaking: SBUSD Board Meeting 4/9/24

On April 9, 2024, a Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) board meeting was held at the district office to discuss pending budget and personnel cuts within the district. During the public forum, more than 40 speakers took to the podium to discuss the implications of these financial decisions on classrooms within SBUSD. Many SBUSD staff members had similar concerns, including SBUSD’s financial reserves continuing to grow amidst wage disputes, overwhelming caseloads for special needs teachers, Instructional Support Specialist (ISS) and bilingual paraeducator positions being reduced, counselor positions being reduced, Education Technology Service (ETS) positions being reduced, and arts programs being condensed.

During the meeting, four representatives from neighboring districts spoke in support of Santa Barbara Teachers Association (SBTA) and their mission for fair and livable wages. Daniel Flores of Ventura Unified School District joked that one of the few good things about SBUSD was how our district had driven many educators to apply for jobs in Ventura county.

One speaker used her 90 allotted seconds to speak to compare the salaries of SBUSD teachers to the salaries of Hilda Maldenado (the superintendent), the COO, and multiple assistant superintendents. She concluded her time by pointing out that John Becchio (Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources) and Kimberly Hernandez (Assistant Superintendent, Business Services) both told Santa Barbara Independent that they did not consider taking a salary cut to attempt to solve the position reduction problem, saying that SBUSD “has to be competitive with other school districts.”

Three speakers from ETS took to the podium to discuss the consequences of reduced positions, stating that during the first month of school they received around 5,000 tech tickets. One speaker highlighted that the current average time for a tech ticket to be resolved is 42 hours, but with position reduction the time is estimated to be three days. There are currently seven field ETS positions in SBUSD who each take on the technology issues of multiple schools. 

In the boardroom and the overflow seating room adjacent to it, the energy of SBTA’s crowd was lively, and the crowd responded to each speech with handshakes, high-fives, and fist-bumps. Each speaker, just like in previous board meetings, was “overwhelmingly and objectively in support of teachers,” as the first speaker of the night commented. As the possibility of a full strike emerges, teachers, SBUSD staff members, and students continue to make their voices heard at SBUSD board meetings. As one speaker said, “Now is when change is needed. Not at some future date.”

A full overflow room for the April 9 board meeting [Image Credit Kelly Meeder]


  • Kelly Meeder

    Kelly Meeder is a senior at Santa Barbara High School and is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Forge. She's been a member of The Forge for 3 years but has been involved with journalism for 6 years. She's previously been a member of VADA and is a current member of the varsity softball team.

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