More than 50 people crammed into the boardroom at 720 Santa Barbara St., where the Santa Barbara Unified School District board was holding its biweekly meeting.
The crowd was bigger than usual.
Most of the individuals at Tuesday’s meeting were associated with Fair Education Santa Barbara, which filed a lawsuit against the district about nine months ago. These individuals spoke one after another during the public comments period for non-agenda matters.
The theme of the comments focused on the declarations filed in the past two weeks as part of the ongoing litigation. The declarations highlighted parents and students’ concerns about Just Communities, the non-profit that holds after-school programs in the district.
According to the non-profit’s website, “Just Communities advances justice by building leadership, fostering change, and dismantling all forms of prejudice, discrimination, and oppression.”
The recently-filed declarations, however, allege that the Just Communities’ programs could be having a negative effect on students, especially white students.
A declaration submitted by Peter Scott highlights an email — the sender and a recipient’s email addresses are redacted — sent to district board members and superintendent. The sender of the email (who claims to be a parent of Spanish origin) wrote that her son told her, “Mom, for just a moment I truly felt like killing myself” after his first day of participation in a Just Communities class.
Prior to the meeting’s regular session which is open to the public, the board held a “conference with legal counsel-existing litigation…Name of Case: Fair Education Santa Barbara, Inc. vs. Santa Barbara Unified School District and Just Communities Central Coast,” according to the meeting agenda.
As is customary, the board did not speak to their time behind closed doors.
Tuesday’s board meeting, though, involved other noteworthy matters.
Assistant superintendent Meg Jetté broke down the monetary affairs for the 2018-2019 school year. Ms. Jetté highlighted the first few pages of a 210-page report that details the district’s finances, summarizing the following points.
For the year 2018-2019, the district’s deficit was $7.6 million, which was less than the projected deficit of $10.3 million. For the next three academic years, unrestricted and restricted multi-year projections suggest that the net loss will be $11.7 million for 2019-2020, $7.5 million for 2020-2021 and $1.3 million for 2021-2022.
The board approved the unaudited actuals for 2018-2019, and the actuals will become audited (meaning a team will have analyzed the report completely) next month, according to Ms. Jetté.The full unaudited actuals report can be viewed at sbunified.org/board/board-meetings/ under “Current Agendas, Attachments and Minutes.”