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Divided School Board Approves Final Budget

Photo by Ana Tintocalis / KPBS

Above: San Diego Unified’s newest school trustees Richard Barrera (left) and John Evans (right) say the district’s budget process was an “eye-opening” experience.

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A divided San Diego Unified school board approved next year's budget yesterday. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis says some trustees believe this budget is proof layoffs aren't necessary. The others say its proof the district is headed in the wrong direction.

— A divided San Diego Unified School Board approved next year's budget yesterday. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis says some trustees believe this budget is proof layoffs aren't necessary. The others say its proof the district is headed in the wrong direction:

The approval finalized the district's plan for shoring up its massive deficit.

Class sizes will be bigger. Bus rides will be longer. There won't be new school supplies or textbooks. There will be fewer vice principals, counselors and support staff.

The people who do remain are teachers.

One of the newest trustees, John Evans, believes that's the right thing to do. He says what the district really needs is budget reform -- something he realized after pushing for other kinds of cost savings.

“Well, I think obviously that people weren't used to being asked these questions,” Evans said. “And so there were times I would ask a question once or twice and I would get a very cursory answer. Certainly there were a lot people who were used to the kind of status quo, and don’t want their little department to be messed with.”

Evans along with trustees Richard Barrera and Shelia Jackson are backed by the teachers union and they opposed teacher layoffs. Katherine Nakamura says it shows. She voted against the budget because she believes it protects teachers at the expense of students.

“My priorities are in a different place,” Nakamura said. “I think there are special interests that got this board elected and they got what they paid for. And I have to admit, they did a very good job of that, because the priorities of this board I believe are completely misplaced.”

District officials are already showing a multi-million dollar deficit for the 2009-2010 school year. The board will begin trying to balance that budget as soon as they submit this one on July 1st.

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