Santa Barbara area schools have too much money and are led by self serving administrators, a government-paid trustee majority and advised by a policy-advocating attorney. After 42 years as a public school advocate, I want to be proven wrong! The recent hirings of newcomer Hilda Maldonado and Steve Venz in the Santa Barbara Unified School District underscores my point, although they’re only two of the many on the receiving end.
How exactly is student learning and proficiency helped by each expenditure for consultants, attorneys and administrators?
Who loses? The SBUSD elementary students who need additional funded instruction, opportunities and mentors.
Until proficiency is up from 13% and above 60% at all elementary and secondary SBUSD schools, we need to stop paying to bandage mega-problems. SBUSD is failing our students.
And at my neighborhood elementary school of 184 students in another district, two top administrators do the job done by one superintendent/principal for over 100 years. Their combined compensation is over $600,000 a year or 11% of the total “tiny school” tax-funded budget: 5% is the guideline. Moreover, the attorney/CBO also works for another local district.
Consulting contracts add on to district compensation. Teachers are fairly compensated $140,000 -$185,000 for class sizes under 20 with an aid for 8 months work from 8-2:30p.m. Per pupil, Montecito elementary districts received $26-$35,000, in 2019 before CARES Act supplements. Why is it Montecito parents still must hire tutors for their students?
Local school districts are not underfunded. It’s how they vote to spend tax revenues.
SBUSD needs to replace its leaders — both administrators and on its ”sister” bonded governing board. For starters, SBUSD trustee and Montecito Union School District No. 2 administrator Virginia Alvarez needs to recuse herself from districting discussions or give up her MUSD $294,000 (2019) compensation. She is unprepared and a liability to both SBUSD and Montecito.
Taxpayers need to wake up as K-14 school revenues go up as enrollments go down. Don’t vote for any additional school bonds until waste is stopped and reserves are increased at SBUSD as well as at Santa Barbara City College.
Denice Spangler Adams
Editor’s note: Hilda Maldonado became the superintendent of the Santa Barbara Unified School District on July 1, 2020. Last summer Steve Venz was named the district’s chief operating officer.