“We are not a high wealth district” was the main message of the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s demographic and income report, which was presented by Superintendent Cary Matsuoka at a school board meeting on Nov. 12.
The data-intensive report starts with a breakdown of the demographics of the school district. According to the data that was collected during the 2018-2019 school year, the district’s enrollment of almost 13,500 students is composed of 60 percent Latinos, 32 percent white, almost 4 percent Asian and Pacific islander, almost 1 percent black, and almost 3 percent other.
Of the elementary schools in the district, Franklin Elementary has the most Latino students (almost 500), and Washington Elementary has the most white students (about 315). Of the middle schools, Santa Barbara Junior High has the most Latino students (about 550), and La Colina Junior High has the most white students (about 450).
Of the high schools, Santa Barbara High School has the most Latino students (about 1,230), and Dos Pueblos High School has the most white students (825).
Then the presentation guided the audience through how socio-economically disadvantaged is defined. Here are the seven criteria used by the district:
- Neither of the student’s parents have a high school diploma;
- The student was considered homeless;
- The student was foster-program eligible;
- The student was enrolled in Juvenile Court School;
- The student was directly certified.
- The student was eligible for or participating in the free meal program or reduced-price meal program.
- The student is eligible for or participating in the Title I Part C Migrant program.
SBUSD has almost 8,000 students who fall within the criteria, making up almost 60 percent of enrolled students in the district.
How do these figures compare to nearby districts that are all significantly smaller than SBUSD?
The Goleta Union School District has 40 percent of its 3,500 falling within the criteria. About 35 percent of Hope Elementary School District’s nearly 1,000 students falling under the criteria.
The Montecito Union School District, with almost 400 students, has about 15 percent within the criteria. And the Cold Spring School District, with almost 170 students, has almost 7 percent falling within the criteria.
With the most students in the region, Santa Barbara Unified School District has the most socio-economically disadvantaged students.
“The perception of Santa Barbara Unified is that we are a wealthy district with little poverty,” reads the report. “The reality in our schools, especially our elementary schools, are neighborhoods with deep socioeconomic challenges.”
In terms of income per student — defined by average daily attendance — Santa Barbara, which has $12,747 to spend per ADA, falls far behind nearby districts: Montecito, $37,246; Cold Spring, $28,906; Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, $16,466; Los Angeles Unified School District, $15,195; Goleta, $15,012; Carpinteria Unified School District, $14,032; Santa Maria jJoint Union High School District, $13,376; Long Beach Unified School District, $13,369; Oxnard Union High School District, $12,994.
“Santa Barbara Unified is perceived as a wealthy district due to our geographical setting and being surrounded by high income partner districts,” reads the report. “We are not a wealthy school district. … Our income is right at the state average — we are not a high wealth district.”
The full report can be found on https://www.sbunified.org/.