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School Official Says Budget Cuts Would Hurt Students, College Readiness

Budget cuts being considered by the San Diego Unified School District would stunt continuing improvement on standardized tests and diminish college readiness, an SDUSD official said today.

Increasing class sizes, and laying off librarians and vice principals will make it difficult to continue five years of improvements by district students in standardized test scores, Nellie Meyer, the deputy superintendent of academics, said at a news conference.

"We don't know if we can continue our sustained growth (in test results) if we cut the things that made it possible," Meyer said.

The district, which has endured four years of budget cuts, faces a $141 million shortfall in fiscal 2011-12.

Chief Financial Officer Phil Stover said the state budget deal reached last week will help the district marginally at first, but the optimistic financial projections of legislative leaders will probably lead to mid-year cutbacks -- putting local school districts in an even worse position.

College readiness would be affected if music, arts and athletics are cut, Meyer said. A district program aimed at increasing the availability of courses required by the University of California and California State University systems could also be postponed, she said.

"Athletic programs are correlated to student success and keep students in school," Meyer said. Sports also pave the way for scholarships, she said.

Budget cuts could prompt parents to put their children in private schools and, because state funding is based on attendance, the district could lose even more money, she said.

The Board of Education is considering letting class sizes increase and eliminating full-day kindergarten, which would eliminate 440 teachers.

District officials say that since 2007, the number of teachers employed by the district has dropped by 10.6 percent, and the overall workforce has fallen by 9 percent.

Nearly all the instructors have left via attrition or by taking an early retirement deal. Other staffers have been laid-off.

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