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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on June 11th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 14 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 14

Lucia Mar re-funds some cut programs

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Lucia Mar re-funds some cut programs

In addition to the programs and positions the Lucia Mar Unified School District Board of Trustees voted to restore in May, all district employees are anticipating a 2 percent pay increase. The board was expected to approve the bump at its June 11 meeting.

The increase would be a just-for-now kind of thing. It marks the completion of contract negotiations for the 2012-2013 school year, and all parties will have to meet back at the negotiating table for 2013-2014 contracts.

Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association President Donna Kandel said she sees the bump as a start. Coupled with the programs that will come back to life, she said the move signals a reprieve from the drastic cuts the district made approximately five years ago, when school district budgets were impacted by the economic downturn.

“We’re hoping [re-funding budget cuts] is something the district is committed to,” Kandel said. “Things are looking positive with the state budget.”

On May 7, the board voted to add two elementary school music positions and a middle school counseling position with an allocation of up to $330,000. On May 21, the board voted, among other things, to approve an additional $470,000 toward anti-bullying programs at each school; to reinstate the Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program at elementary schools; and to put $267,000 into technology support and improvements.

Kandel said teachers don’t necessarily agree with everything the district is choosing to fund with next year’s budget, but adding a middle school counselor, investing in computer and technology, and bringing back some arts are all things for which teachers advocated.

“Not all the arts programs are being restored, but I am happy that the elementary school is getting their music program back,” she said.

Raynee Daley, assistant superintendent of business services for the district, said the cuts made by the district several years ago have finally come back around and that there’s a little leeway in the general fund budget for the district to be able to re-fund programs. She added that the district has been planning for this by getting input from teachers, administrators, and district staff to set “priorities
and perceptions of where the district needs to go.”

“We’re not finished yet,” she said.

It’s not that all of a sudden Lucia Mar has this huge pot of money, said district spokesperson Amy Jacobs. She explained that a little bit of money was set aside “just in case” there needed to be cuts made for the 2013-2014 school year. However, those cuts weren’t necessary because Proposition 30 passed and there are new allocations for education within the proposed state budget, which is anticipated to be finalized in the next couple of weeks.

“We’re not rich,” Jacobs said. “We’re just better than we used to be.”