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S.D. Unified To Talk About Budget Cuts Early And Often

Audio

Aired 10/22/09

San Diego Unified school officials say they learned their lesson last year and will tell the public about the magnitude of proposed budget cuts before it's too late.

— San Diego Unified school officials say they learned their lesson last year and will tell the public about the magnitude of proposed budget cuts before it's too late.

Over the past two years, the district has cut about $200 million from its operating budget.

Some community members complain they've been blindsided by some of those cuts. But that should be different this year. The district is launching a public outreach campaign in an effort to be transparent about deep budget cuts this and next year.

This time the public will be able to weigh in on what should be cut, and offer alternatives.

The district's Bernie Rhinerson says a poll will be conducted to help inform the process. He says the board doesn’t want the community to be surprised.

“We really didn't start this communication and outreach process last year until we were in the midst of the board's budget deliberations,” Rhinerson says. “So if we learned anything it's let's start early.”

Five town hall meetings will also take place beginning next month. Parent focus groups will be formed and a community blog is already set up.

San Diego Unified is facing an unexpected $61 million budget deficit this year. Next year the district could be $175 million in the red.

People and programs spared last year are expected to be back on the chopping block -- including teachers.

Rhinerson says the community input will help guide the decision-making process, but admits the trustees will have the final say.

“In the end, (the trustees) are going to have to make some tough decisions because of the magnitude of the cuts. There are no good choices. There are going to be people who are happy with the decision the board makes, and those that aren't happy.”

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