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Parents Upset Over SD Unified’s Buget Details

Audio

Aired 4/20/09

Parents in the San Diego Unified School District are upset over a plan that requires principals to juggle two elementary schools at one time. They’re also angry the district wants to cut school bus transportation to magnet schools. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has more.

The San Diego Unified school board says one principal for two schools will help them balance the district's budget next year without resorting to layoffs. Twenty-two elementary schools are expected to take part.

Jamie Saylor is a parent at Cabrillo Elementary, a campus of about 200 students that might share its principal with Sunset View Elementary, a campus of 400 students.

She says her smaller school won't function with a parttime principal.
 

“There's no one there for the parents,” Saylor said. “There is no one for the teachers to ask for leadership. And if they do, it's a week later. And a week is a long time. Who are the teachers going to turn to?”
 

Other parents say the plan makes no sense -- especially when class sizes are expected to go up and hundreds of veteran school employees might retire early. 
 

The news is especially disheartening for families at Crown Point and Barnard magnet schools. Not only might the schools lose their fulltime principals, they could also face losing school bus transportation.
 

Under another cost-saving strategy, the district is proposing to eliminate school bus routes that service about two dozen magnet schools. That’s expected to affect thousands of parents who rely on the yellow school bus to get their kids to those campuses.
 

A selling point of magnet school programs is any student can attend -- even if he or she lives miles away.
 

Derby Pattengill is a parent at Benchley Weinberger, a magnet school in San Carlos. He says no more buses will result in far less students.
 

“There is a huge group of people at Benchley Weinberger that I don't think will be able to attend if it weren't busing,” Pattengill said. “That's just going to kill the programs. All you're going to get is the people who can afford to drive their kids back and forth to school.”
 

District officials say these strategies are not necessarily set in stone. The school board has until June 30 to submit its final budget plan.
 

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.

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