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Sweeping Layoffs Loom For San Diego Schools

Aired 12/7/11 on KPBS News.

Under a worst-case budget scenario, San Diego Unified could be forced to make hundreds of layoffs again next year.

— San Diego Unified’s board of education members got their first look at how the district could close a budget gap of more than $90 million for the fall. The district's initial budget plan for 2012-13 must be submitted to the County Office of Education next week. The plan has to include measures to deal with projected mid-year budget cuts from the state and cannot rely on employee union concessions to close any shortfall.

Those conditions could force more than 800 full-time equivalent employee layoffs by next summer. If mid-year budget cuts of $26 to $30 million become a reality, the district is poised to lay off more than 50 full-time equivalent non-teaching staff by February 1. It would also use $4 million in proceeds from the sale of district property and $22 million in reserve funds to make up the cut.

A mid-year cut could leave the district with a shortfall of more than $90 million for the fall.

Current employee contracts include the restoration of five furlough days and a teacher pay increase. Without concessions from the district's five employee unions, it could take more than 760 more full-time equivalent layoffs to balance the budget.

Board President Richard Barrera told his fellow trustees that district schools are already understaffed, so averting this worst-case scenario is vital.

“We’ve got an opportunity in the next couple months to come together the district and our employees and talk about what we can do to solve these problems," he said "And we’ve got an opportunity as an entire community for people to come together to advocate against the mid-year cuts."

Barrera said tax initiatives Gov. Jerry Brown and others will try to get placed on the November 2012 ballot would be a fairer way to solve the budget crises facing many of the state's school districts than cutting more employees.

San Diego Unified laid off about 1,000 teachers and other staff to balance the budget for the current schools year.

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