$116 Million may be cut from the San Diego Unified budget

The state’s second largest school district – San Diego Unified – needs to find a way to cut $116-million from its $1.3 billion budget. Worst case scenario means widespread layoffs.


The School Board is meeting Tuesday morning to discuss these tough decisions that will impact the 2017/2018 school year. This school year’s budget it set. But with a shortfall of over $100-million next year, the School Board President says layoffs could be coming right after the holidays.


San Diego Unified is the second biggest school district in the state with a budget of $1.3 billion dollars for 130,000 students.  And now, just like every year at this time, we’re talking about the possibility of major, multi-million dollar cuts.


“We’re looking at programs, looking at contracts, looking at services that we’re providing that are as far away from the classroom as possible,” Dr. Michael McQuary said.


School Board President Dr. McQuary wants jobs to be the last thing on the chopping block. 6,500 teachers and 17,000 other staff work for the district and Dr. McQuary says they want to keep everyone.


“We know teachers are the most important, to improving education for children, so we want the best and brightest and want to maintain those, so we need to stay competitive and need to stay up there with other districts,” he said.


But making up an estimated $116-million budget shortfall won’t be easy.  The district expects to have final numbers next month.


“We won’t know the amount we’ll receive from the state until the Governor passes the budget in January, so we go through this dance every year,” Dr. McQuary said.


The state provides most local school funding. Federal money only accounts for about ten percent of the budget, but both numbers could be shrinking because the number of students enrolled in the city is dropping.
“Our numbers have been going down over the last 10 years, by one percent. We hope to see that even out, and go up in the future,” Dr. McQuary added.


San Diego Unified says it can cut 44 million at the central office, 21 million in maintenance and custodial and 52 million from schools. But the cost of retirement plans and other employee benefits keep growing and eating up more and more of the district budget.


Just last month, the trustees agreed to a four percent salary boost for teachers and other district employees, but now, they have until March 15th to tell people if they’ll be keeping that raise, or if they’ll have a job at all.

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