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S.D. Unified Mandates Spending, Hiring Freeze

— Spend less money, hire fewer workers. That's the mandate the San Diego Unified School Board handed down to district employees yesterday.

San Diego Unified is facing a state budget shortfall next year that's estimated to be anywhere from $90 million to $180 million.

Trustees say approving a spending and hiring freeze now is the first step in trying to balance next year's budget.

District officials say San Diego Unified has about $220 million that has yet to be spent in this year's budget. Trustee John Evans says whatever the district saves now will make a big difference later.

"One person we hire this year, could result in two layoffs next year," Evans says. "One item that we purchase now could result in two less items next year. So we're really trying to look at this very early and preserve what we have."

Essential services and positions, including teachers, could be spared. Unions representing school support staff are against the freezes. They say the district should be hiring more workers to help the existing staff manage heavy workloads due to previous cuts.

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