In the final board meeting of the academic year, trustees of the Carpinteria Unified School District heard a report from Superintendent Diana Rigby outlining academic year 2019-20 revenues, spending and possible cuts. The board also approved a draft of Measure U spending items, celebrated the work of retiring teachers and welcomed a data-driven report from Canalino and Carpinteria Family School principal Jamie Persoon.
Rigby’s report for the Budget Study Session, the board’s seventh this year, presented an array of spending cuts aimed at maintaining a healthy fiscal reserve next academic year. With district revenues staying flat at some $21 million, steep mandated increases in special education spending, as well as health insurance and pension costs present a recurring problem. Rigby reminded the board that the roughly $800,000 in proposed discretionary cuts—concentrated largely on instructional aides, the attrition of a Social Studies position, and custodial and library staff—are necessary for a “sustainable budget.” The 50 percent reduction in Carpinteria High School library hours from eight to four, perhaps the most controversial of the proposed cuts, would save the district around $33,000. This budgetary forecast does not take into account possible increases in cost-of-living adjustments for district employees.
Board chairman Andy Sheaffer agreed with Rigby’s emphasis on economy, citing data from 2014-15 to highlight the impact of the 60 percent increase in mandated special education spending, from approximately $2.27 million to $3.83 million in 2018-19. He outlined the sharp jump in obligatory spending, lamenting that “there is no mechanism to reimburse us for a lot of that.” The superintendent’s proposed budget sharply reduces the deficit from $503,000 in 2018-19 to just under $70,000 for 2019-20 and leaves the district with a fiscal reserve of 6.3 percent for the year. Final approval of the budget is scheduled for Jun 25, while the board’s next meeting on Jun 11 is the final opportunity for board trustees to suggest changes.
The board unanimously approved a sweeping set of Measure U spending items. Rigby reported that major construction at Aliso, Canalino and Carpinteria High schools will begin June 15, with modernization projects to be completed by Aug. 19. The purchase of Gen7 modular classrooms for the three schools won unanimous approval from the board. Trustee Rogelio Delgado dissented on two contracts up for vote, however, the first was a facilities project coordinator at $78.20 per hour and the second was a professional services inspector at $95 per hour, both figures characterized by district staff as at “the low range of rates currently charged by these professionals.” The two positions were nonetheless approved, 3-1, board member Michelle Robertson being absent.
Board members and Rigby honored several long-serving educators, celebrating their retirement and honoring their contributions to district students. Notably, CHS Principal Gerardo Cornejo strongly praised social studies teacher Casey Roberts for his 34-year-career and his moral dedication to the well-being of his students. Roberts, who himself taught now-principal Gerardo Cornejo, said “it is such a pleasure to tell people I work for my former student.” Board member Sally Green recalled the joy of seeing a group of students “totally in rapture” at the reading of long-time Canalino Library Tech Bunni Lesh, while Alice Bingham was celebrated by a former student for her mantra to “be an upstander, not a bystander.”
Canalino and Family School principal Jamie Persoon delivered a detailed report on academic progress at her schools, especially in writing competencies, and praised the schools’ new math curriculum for generating a spike in test scores. Ninety-two percent of fourth and fifth graders passed the state writing assessment, an achievement Persoon particularly lauded. Persoon also praised the “enormous amount of progress in collaboration” between the two schools, both located on the same campus, and noted growing signs of friendly ties between the student bodies.