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School Trustee Supports Pay, Benefit Cuts To Save Money

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Aired 3/4/11

A San Diego City school board member wants to ask teachers a tough question: Would they be willing to take a pay cut and pay even more at the doctor’s office to save their jobs?

— A San Diego City school board member wants to ask teachers a tough question: Would they be willing to take a pay cut and pay even more at the doctor’s office to save their jobs?

San Diego Unified school board trustee Scott Barnett.

Above: San Diego Unified school board trustee Scott Barnett.

San Diego school trustee Scott Barnett wants labor unions to reopen their contracts in hopes of saving the district money.

Agreements were struck about a year ago.

Barnett, however, said the district’s financial reality has gotten worse since then. He believes it is time to consider cuts to employee salaries and health care benefits.

He says otherwise roughly 900 layoff notices will be mailed to school workers this month.

“If there is agreement, we can certainly make changes and start the process,” Barnett said. “If the leaders say we want to work together and save jobs, then I am convinced we can do it.”

But union leaders say they have already sacrificed.

For example, teachers have agreed to furlough days which shrinks their paychecks and their work year. They are also paying a bit more at the doctor’s office.

“The district told us what they needed, and we gave them what they needed (last year),” said Bill Freeman, president of the San Diego Education Association. "That is why our contract is closed. Don’t think we haven’t given our fair share, because we have.”

Freeman said the union is willing to help the district find costs outside of their contracts.

He said the district could eliminate the number of student assessments given every year, and area superintendents who oversee each geographic part of the district.

But Barnett said doing away with assessments and administrators will not help to fill San Diego Unified’s budget hole.

The district is facing a possible $120 million budget deficit. That's on top of millions of dollars cut over the past few years.

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