Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Cuts Balance Budget at San Diego Unified

Cuts totaling more than $100 million, ranging from healthcare benefit reductions to increasing class size -- but no projected teacher layoffs -- have been approved for next school year by San Diego Unified School District's Board of Trustees.

The cuts made Tuesday, March10, 2009, for the 2009-10 school year range from reductions in discretionary funds distributed to schools and slight increases in class size, to changes in employee health benefits and an employee furlough.

Although fewer teachers and other staff members are planned for the 2009-10 school year, no layoffs of permanent teachers are planned as a result of this budget. This is due to the early retirement incentive approved last month by the Board; more than 1,000 employees are eligible for the program.

"Today, we dealt with a problem created by the State of California," said Shelia Jackson, school board president. "They put our district in a position where we had no choice but to make budget cuts that hurt our schools.

"Tomorrow, we all need to start working together to convince our state legislators that they simply must reform how this state funds public schools. Our kids don't deserve schools that are last in the nation in per-pupil funding."

The Board, which just three days earlier had ratified $45 million in reductions for the current school year, trimmed an additional $100 million, reflecting an anticipated reduction in state funding for 2009-10.

San Diego Unified and all other school districts are required, on March 17, to submit a report to the state that they have sufficient funding for this school year and a plan for funding next school year. The Board of Education on Tuesday certified that report to the state.

Of the $100,258,741 reduced from the projected 2009-10 school year budget, $34,589,792 are reductions that must be negotiated with at least one of San Diego Unified unions, including the San Diego Education Association (SDEA) and California School Employees Association (CSEA).

The cuts projected for the 2009-10 school year are:

-- Tier II & III mandatory program reductions, $11.7 million. Reduced or eliminated programs include: English Language Acquisition; Partnership Academies Program; Roadtrip Nation; Cal-Safe Programs; Carl Washington School Safety Program; GATE Site Discretionary Funds; and California High School Exit Exam Intensive Study.

-- Reductions in Targeted Instructional Improvement Block Grant (TIIBG) funds to schools, $10 million. State-funded grants used for a variety of purposes.

-- Health Care Benefits Change, $4.6 million. Implementation is subject to consultation with employee groups. Employees will receive Kaiser as their healthcare as part of their benefit package. Employees will pay the increased cost for the optional PacificCare plan.

-- Health Care Co-Pay Increase, 2.5 million. Implementation is subject to consultation with employee groups. Increases health-insurance co-pay to $15 from $5.

-- Eliminate Double Benefits When Both Spouses are Employees, $161, 200. Implementation is subject to consultation with employee groups. In cases where both spouses are employees of San Diego Unified School District, only one will carry the benefits package.

-- District-Wide Four-Day Furlough, $10.3 million. All district facilities will be closed four days, which are yet to be announced.

-- Increase size of average class size in grades kindergarten through third by four students, $16.6 million.

-- Fewer Elementary Prep-Time Teachers Required, $1.7 million.

-- Increase size of average class size in grades 6-8, $1.9 million. Ratio in grades 6-8 will be one teacher per 29.73 students, reducing by 23 teachers the number required for these grades.

-- Increase size of average class in grades 9-12, $3.3 million. Increases class sizes to ratio of one teacher for every 30.13 students at high schools, reducing by 40 teachers the number required for these grades.

-- Eliminate Class Size Reductions in 9th Grade English Classes, $3.9 million. The student-teacher ratio in 9th grade English classes will be consistent with other classes, no longer at 20:1, reducing by 47 teachers the number required for these courses.

-- Eliminate Kindergarten through Second Grade class-size reduction for 29 schools, $8.1 million. Returns these schools to standard 20:1 ratio, reducing by 101 the number of teachers required for these grades.

-- Eliminate eight language teachers, $664,000. Positions for five teachers at Jerebek Elementary School and three at Sunset View Elementary School which were paid out of Unrestricted Funds will be eliminated.

-- Increase Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Program and Seminar Program teacher ratio to 25:1 from 23:1, $8.1 million. Reduces by 12 the number of teachers required for these courses.

-- One principal assigned to two small elementary schools, $1.5 million. Schools involved to be determined.

-- Eliminate Magnet Program transportation, $10.5 million.

The Board also identified another $34 million in reductions that would be used if employee associations did not agree to the above cuts. Those cuts include: closing schools; eliminating the outdoor programs at Mt. Palomar, Old Town and Balboa Park; and eliminating athletics for grades 9-12.

The full report is online at$FILE/Proposed Bdgt Reduction Board solutions 031009 v7 2.pdf

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