SDUSD Budget cuts may or may not happen depending on state.

The San Diego Unified School District could be facing huge cuts in the 2017-18 school year, or maybe not. It all depends on the budget Governor Brown submits, and the action the legislature takes on it. But the district is preparing for the worst.

The San Diego School District Board, just like every other district board in the state, has to go through this dance every year. They simply don’t yet know how much money they’re going to get from the state.

“The district may not be able to meet its financial obligations,” said SDUSD Interim Chief Financial Officer Patricia Cook to the board at their Tuesday night meeting. Cook proceeded to lay out how staff would recommend the board close what could be a more than $116 million shortfall.

The cuts would come in three phases: first, $44 million from the Central District Office. Second, $21 million from centralized support services and only as a last resort, $52 million from schools and that would mean significant layoffs of teachers and staff.

Longtime teacher Colleen Andrews pleaded with the Board that if push comes to shove, they must think first of the students. “There are classrooms that are right up to their maximum allowable amount of children. They’re working a hard day with not enough materials and that needs to be looked at,” Andrews said.

The Board may not know how much money they’ll get from the state yet, but they do know that if layoffs are to come, they’re required to let teachers and staff know by mid-March. They’ll get their first idea about funding when the Governor releases a preliminary budget at the end of next month.

On Tuesday night, board members tried their best to reassure people that the worst case scenarios discussed may very well not happen. “We’re taking a conservative estimate of how much money we’re going to have and it always comes down, without us cutting it always comes down,” said board member John Lee Evans.

School board member Kevin Beiser pointed to estimates from the Legislative Analysts Office that forecast a fairly rosy scenario. “The state of California is looking at an $11.5 billion dollar surplus and that the LAO is projecting for the 17-18 school year an increase of almost $3 billion in Proposition 98 funding for schools.”

The budget for this year, 2016-17 is set. Tuesday evening’s discussion centered on budgets for the following two school years.

One school board member called on the legislature to fix this problem by telling districts how much money they can expect a year in advance so this kind of budgeting without knowing how much money they’ve got to spend can come to an end.

More from CW6