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San Diego Unified Recalls About 300 Teachers

— About 800 teachers and 600 other school district employees were laid off as part of the San Diego Unified budget for the coming year. The district will now be getting an additional $27 million from the state and will use the bulk of that money to retain smaller class sizes in early elementary grades.

By recalling about 300 kindergarten through third grade teachers, San Diego Unified will keep classes sizes in those grades at 24 students for every teacher. In the city’s 29 poorest schools, there will be no more than 20 students in those early elementary-school classrooms.

“It is really good news for the kids who are struggling in elementary school," said Kevin Beiser, a Board of Education trustee. "When we use research-based strategies, that’s how we’re going to improve school performance. And we can do it with smaller class sizes in kindergarten through third grade.”

Research shows students in small classes in lower grades are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to graduate from high school on time.

Representatives of non-teaching-employee unions expressed displeasure at a school district press conference that all layoff recalls were used for instructional staff.

"While this restoration is a positive step, our schools will still be dramatically impacted by more than $90 million in program reductions in the coming school year," said Bill Kowba, district superintendent.

In addition to about 1,100 layoffs that have not been rescinded, the district is decreasing student transportation and cutting resources for magnet and other programs across the district.

About $9 million more dollars the state is obligated to pay out to the district for this year will not come in until July 2012 because the legislature used payment deferrals to balance the state's budget.

Despite the funding increase the district still expects to face a budget deficit of more than $90 million for the 2012-13 school year.

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