Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The San Diego Unified School Board has pinpointed roughly $22 million-worth of mid-year budget cuts in anticipation of what lawmakers might decide in Sacramento. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has more.
Financial experts at San Diego Unified say the district stands to lose anywhere from $40 to $50 million in state funding halfway into the school year. So far trustees have identified about $22 million in cuts.
School board member John Evans says the savings would mostly come from a districtwide hiring freeze and a scaled back workers compensation fund.
Evans: We want to begin looking at all the areas we can save before any of the cuts are specifically announced. And, in fact, we are finding areas where we are going to be making cuts no what matter is going on with the state budget.
For example, Evans says they want to use redevelopment funds instead of the district's operating budget to pay for custodial services at certain schools.
San Diego Unified school board members are also calling on state lawmakers to give them more control in how they spend state education dollars.
The state gives San Diego Unified and other school districts protected pots of money every year. That money is used for targeted purposes including new textbooks, tutoring for struggling students and programs for English learners.
But the trustees are now demanding state lawmakers give them the power to tap into these protected accounts. They want the money to support the district during the state's budget crisis.
Evans says it's not an ideal situation, but more control would help.
Evans: Someone described it as being given the choice of what finger you want amputate. But even making slight cuts in one program or moving things around would be a big step forward.
The Governor is open to giving school districts more control. But Democratic lawmakers and other education advocates say earmarked dollars are the only way to make sure certain needs are being met.
Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.