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Cuyama Joint Unified District under spending freeze after funds fall through in charter school scam

A meeting on the budget cuts will take place on Oct. 7th at Cuyama Elementary School
Posted at 7:47 PM, Oct 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 23:19:32-04

The Cuyama Joint Unified School District is currently under a spending freeze after being duped by a statewide charter school scheme.

The $745,000 budget the district was counting on fell through after the people behind an online charter school, A3 Education, were indicted on criminal charges.

The district has moved around funds, but is still $200,000 short.

A fiscal recovery plan which will be presented to the board of trustees on October 7th may include the elimination of several staff positions. The district is also considering selling some of the homes which were previously purchased and rented to teachers at a lower rate.

"We've already reduced one of our 4-hour custodial positions -- he was a custodian and a bus driver last month and this month we're going to have to continue that look and I don't know what the trustees are going to decide but we have to decide because we have to balance at the end of the meeting," said Stephen Bluestein, the Superintendent for Cuyama School District.

Laura Price has three of her kids in the Cuyama School District and says she is worried about the budget cuts compromising her children's education.

"As a parent, it's frustrating when your child's teacher can't even get an ink cartridge for her classroom, when it's like a complete spending freeze -- when there's a risk of all field trips being canceled because there's just no funding," added Price.

The district had agreed to authorize the online charter school in exchange for a fee based on the percentage of students enrolled.

According to prosecutors, A3 Education enrolled thousands of students and took public school funds and used the money instead for real estate and other ventures.

In May, 11 people allegedly involved in A3 Education were indicted in San Diego County on charges including conspiracy and misappropriation of public funds.

The Oct. 7th meeting will be open to the public at 6:00 p.m. and will take place at Cuyama Elementary School.