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Top Stories Of 2009: Massive Budget Cuts To Education

Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Video published December 29, 2009 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: KPBS Education Reporter Ana Tintocalis examines the impact of hundreds of millions of dollars being cut from school districts in San Diego County.

GLORIA PENNER (Host): The state’s budget also hit close to home this year on the education front, where massive cuts were made to both K-12 and higher education. So with me now to look at the impact of these cuts is KPBS education reporter Ana Tintocalis. Welcome, Ana.

ANA TINTOCALIS (KPBS Education Reporter): Thank you.

PENNER: Give us a sense of how much education actually was cut locally in K-12 school districts.

TINTOCALIS: Well, I would say hundreds of millions of dollars in San Diego County. And it’s difficult because it varies among public school districts. So take San Diego Unified for example. Over the past year they saw about $200 million cut, a state funding shortfall of that amount of money. And so what they were able to do this past year, which bailed them out basically, was that they put out an early retirement plan for veteran teachers. So veteran teachers took this deal and they left. And that was one way for the district to avoid teacher layoffs.

PENNER: But what kind of other impact did it have other than seeing their older teachers retire?

TINTOCALIS: Well you also had increased class sizes pretty much across all the levels. So you have bigger class sizes right now. They took a huge chunk of people in services out of the central office administration. A lot of people were saying don’t touch schools, lets look to the administration. So the administration, the central office there on Normal Street, is basically gutted when you go there. It’s pretty empty.

PENNER: That’s amazing because for years they’ve said cut the administration. And now they have.

TINTOCALIS: They have for certain. And there's less money for classroom supplies, but again, something that helped the district this past year is that they kind of tapped into this big pot federal education stimulus money. So that helped them get by. Looking forward to the New Year, they're saying another possible $200 million hit to their budget.

PENNER: Out of how large a budget?

TINTOCALIS: They have a $1.2 billion operating budget.

PENNER: So that’s significant.

TINTOCALIS: It’s significant.

PENNER: What about the community colleges and the universities?

TINTOCALIS: So the higher education institutions, basically what you see, again hundreds of millions of dollars. At San Diego State, they’ve seen a $55 million hit. At San Diego Community College District, a $32 million hit. So collectively, these higher education institutions are offering fewer classes, student fees have increased, teachers, faculty, workers, they're either on furlough or they’ve been laid off, there's less counselors to work with students. And so all in all students who are able to get in, they're paying more but they're getting less.

PENNER: Just briefly, in 2010 are we going to see all of this continue or might some of the cuts be eliminated?

TINTOCALIS: I think it’s going to be even more painful as we look ahead. A lot of what has helped public education is this federal education stimulus money, but there's a funding cliff because this one time money I think they can use it over the next couple years and that will dry up quite soon. So, again, it’s going to be tough times for education.

PENNER: Well thank you vey much, Ana Tintocalis.

TINTOCALIS: You're welcome. Thank you.

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