School board to take action on students’ recent demands
The Santa Barbara Unified School District will meet Tuesday and vote on a Black Lives Matter resolution, while also taking action on recent demands made by district students.
District staff and local students met June 15 to address students’ concerns over racism and social injustice. The students presented a list of six demands that the school board will vote on, while also voting to approve a BLM resolution declaring racism as a public health emergency, according to district officials.
The six demands include: ethnic studies classes with culturally relevant curricula; the implementation of equitable hiring practices and recruiting cultural competent teachers of color for ethnic studies and all classrooms; have student resource officer complete bias training class before working on campus, along with improved de-escalation protocols; that the district condemn the school to prison pipeline; an allocation of funds to rehabilitation or mental health services for at-risk youth as an alternative to probation or juvenile hall; and that the district adopt a resolution declaring racism as a public health emergency and allocate resources to implement restorative justice practices to deal with hate crimes.
District officials are expected to meet with student leaders following the meeting.
“We look forward to continuing the start of this honest dialogue with these students and others, one that is not meant to simply smooth things over but fundamentally make progress on eliminating the structural racism that for too long has created educational, economic and social disparities in our District,” School Board President Laura Capps said in a statement, which was signed by the other school board members.
In other business, the board will hold a public hearing for the 2020-21 fiscal year proposed budget. Staff completed its budget on June 8, one week before the state budget was finalized. With a disagreement on how schools should be funded “during this unstable environment,” staff is expected to bring back a revision to the budget once the state and federal governments have finalized their budgets, according to a staff report.
After the hearing, the board will discuss adopting the budget during the action portion of the agenda.
Also on Tuesday, the board will receive a report on a proposed Westside Community Center in a collaboration between the district and UCSB.
“Amidst the wealth and beauty of Santa Barbara, the Westside is an area of great potential in need of a community center,” the staff report reads. “Dr. Jeff Milem is providing the in-kind leadership resources of UCSB in support of a vision to build out a physical center that will provide programming and resources to the families on the Westside.”
The report includes an overview of the many partners involved in the project and potential future steps.
Finally, the board will receive a report on the district’s plan to reopen schools on Aug. 18. The prevalence of COVID-19 in the county in August will determine which instructional model will be used. The district is considering three scenarios to guide its planning, including full remote instruction, hybrid instruction with some in-person operations, and campus’ being operational for the return of face-to-face instruction.
Under the third scenario, the district intends to accommodate students, staff and faculty who need or prefer to operate remotely due to the pandemic, the staff report reads.
Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting will be conducted via Zoom. To watch live, visit https://sbunified.zoom.us/j/99117259178.