Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The San Diego Unified school board approved a proposed budget plan yesterday that could result in bigger classes, work furloughs and fewer bus routes for next school year. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has the latest.
San Diego school board members are staring down a budget gap that has grown to $147 million for next school year. School officials say the increase is linked to the state's money problems and increased district costs.
In order to plug the massive budget hole, the district plans to increase class sizes, implement a four-day work furlough, and cut health benefits. The district also hopes more than 630 veteran teachers will take a financial buyout plan in exchange for retiring early.
The newly-elected school board has pledged not to send any layoff notices to teachers this school year becoming one of just a few large, urban school districts in California to do so.
But school trustee Richard Barrera warns the district might need to brace for even more cuts.
“Because we anticipate the state is going to come back for more,” Barrera said. “But we're doing what we can right now, to not surrender control of our district.
The district has a back-up plan in case the teachers union doesn't agree to furloughs and health benefit cuts. But that plan hinges on cutting popular programs like the Old Town and Camp Palomar excursions, and closing small schools.
San Diego Unified is required to send a tentative spending plan to the County Office of Education by next week.
Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.