Tuesday’s Santa Barbara Unified School District board meeting began with about 10 public commenters, seven of whom were a part of the non-profit organization AHA.
The representatives of AHA praised the organization’s Peace Builders program, whose funding SBUSD has decided to use for education training instead.
The representatives, however, wanted to make the board and the public aware that the non-profit remains “robust.”
“Not only are we not being dropped from schools, our programming across the district is more robust than it’s ever been,” said AHA’s programs director and facilitator Melissa Lowenstein.
AHA is a Santa Barbara-based educational program that promotes “social-emotional learning, peace building, and joy through creative expression.” The organization does so by providing workshops and field trips for youths. A portion of its programs’ funding comes from fundraisers and from SBUSD.
Following Ms. Lowenstein were current students and alumni of AHA to speak about how the non-profit has helped them learn skills such as socializing, public speaking and stress management.
A parent, however, doubted AHA’s positive impacts on youths.
“I have serious concerns with the district’s continuing contract and involvement with AHA,” said Sharon Rosenberg.
Ms. Rosenberg’s concerns involved AHA programs and the organization’s executive director Jennifer Freed, which she found “inappropriate.”
The board was also presented with the fact that enrollment wise, the district is in “declining mode,” but District Superintendent Cary Matsuoka believes it could be an advantage.
He said, “The financial benefit of that is that as we lose kids and our revenue stays steady with property taxes, we need to take advantage of that by just staffing smart.”
The next board meeting is scheduled for July 23, 2019.