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Rosiest Projections Leave San Diego Schools With $72 Million Deficit

Aired 11/30/11 on KPBS News.

San Diego school officials are hoping for the best as they draw up a draft budget for the next school year.

— San Diego Unified board members got a presentation about what mid-year budget cuts would mean for the district. If revenue projections from the state’s legislative analyst are on track, the district would lose $26 million in state funds as of Feb. 1, according to Ron Little, the district's chief financial officer.

That's an improvement over the worst case scenario of $30 to $32 million in cuts that are possible under the state's budget. Earlier this month the Legislative Analyst's Office released a report predicted state revenues would miss the target set in this year's budget by $3.7 billion. A revenue shortfall would trigger cuts that grow for every billion the state is short up to $4 billion.

Even the $26 million cut would leave the district with a budget gap of up to $97 million for the coming year, Little said. Without mid-year cuts district officials would still face a $72 million shortfall for the 2012-13 school year. Board of Education members have to approve a draft of the 2012-13 budget that accommodates mid-year cuts at their Dec. 13 meeting.

Gov. Jerry Brown will make the final decision on whether to allow mid-year cuts and how severe those cuts will be based on the Legislative Analyst's report and a Dec. 15 report from the Department of Finance. Little said the governor will base his decision on the rosier of the projections. Strong Black Friday sales could soften the blow to San Diego schools by bringing state revenues closer to the target set in this year's budget.

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Avatar for user 'pengler'

pengler | November 30, 2011 at 8:51 p.m. ― 5 years, 3 months ago

We need to stop wringing our hands and start thinking strategically. We have a lot of smart people in the district and the community. Let's tackle the problem with positive action and look for win-win scenarios. $72 million is only 7.2% of SDUSD's billion dollar budget. It's not insurmountable. Here's an example of a strategic action that provides multiple benefits. Offer people who are at the retirement age or higher an incentive to retire. Many veteran teachers and staff earn six figures with benefits included, as they should, but they also will earn a similar income in retirement from their pensions. Younger teachers and staff who are laid off or have benefits or salaries cut are much more negatively affected than teachers and staff who retire, and the difference in salaries between the two groups is certainly more than 7.2%. The next generation of experienced teachers and staff would then have an opportunity to move into leadership positions and apply their ideas to help the district function better, find new resources, and use existing resources in new ways. Newer teachers and staff with more modest salaries would have the chance to join SDUSD and begin building their careers. New teachers are supported by BTSA grants, which are awarded based on the number of new teachers--more new teachers hired means more income for the district. This is just one strategy that could reduce costs, improve effectiveness, and increase income. I'm sure there are similar strategic actions in other areas that could accomplish multiple beneficial goals and help the district's solvency.

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