Saturday, October 24, 2009

Superintendent’s Message: Budgeting Begins for 2010-11

Our school year has just begun and so has the planning for next year. The Board of Education had an excellent session on Tuesday, Oct. 20 to discuss the prospects of another very difficult budget year, 2010-11. The next Board Budget Workshop is scheduled for November 20.

The district has cut $180 million from our budget in the last two years but thanks to federal stimulus dollars, early retirements and streamlining our organization, for the most part, our classrooms were protected. For the 2010-11 budget year, the district is facing a budget deficit of approximately $80 to $100 million even before new cuts that are expected from the state. That means the Board of Education will once again be facing extremely difficult choices to balance next year’s budget.

The State of California is continuing to face the impacts of a deep economic recession and tax revenues coming in far below estimates for the current budget year. Current projections show that the state may be facing another $8-16 billion deficit, which will mean even more severe cuts for public education. We won’t know the state’s projected budget until January, but San Diego Unified could face an additional $100 million or more in cuts for the next budget year on top of our current projected deficit of nearly $100 million!

In the face of this bleak budget outlook, as Interim Superintendent, I share the strong commitment of the Board of Education to keep budget reductions as far from the classroom as possible. During the coming weeks, our staff will be conducting a complete review our operations and programs to identify a full range of budget reduction alternatives for the Board. The Board will also be considering a targeted freeze on hiring and expenses to help us save as many dollars as possible in the current budget year.
We encourage the public to stay informed about the education budget crisis and to share your concerns. We are launching a community outreach program to give our school communities and the public access to current budget information and provide opportunities for input. This program will include a series of Town Hall meetings during November and December. We also encourage the public to visit our new Budget Crisis website to get the latest information and to share ideas and comments on our Budget Blog.

During this difficult period for public education, I want to assure our parents, our staff and the public that we will remain focused on our primary goal, providing quality education for every student on every school day.