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San Diego Unified Students Head Back To Stretched Schools

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Aired 9/7/11

About 130,000 San Diego public school students went back to class today.

Students at Juarez Elementary in Serra Mesa were welcomed back to school by Principal Marceline Marquez and San Diego Unified Superintendent Bill Kowba. Budget cuts mean these students and others are returning to schools with fewer resources.

Students, parents and teachers are welcomed to the first day of school at Juarez Elementary in Serra Mesa by Principal Marceline Marquez and San Diego Unified Superintendent Bill Kowba, Sept. 6, 2011.
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Above: Students, parents and teachers are welcomed to the first day of school at Juarez Elementary in Serra Mesa by Principal Marceline Marquez and San Diego Unified Superintendent Bill Kowba, Sept. 6, 2011.

“It’ll be a year with smaller staff, but an enrollment that’ll probably be either steady or a little bit up or down, that to be determined as the next couple of weeks progress,” Kowba said.

Juarez lost several of its support staff including its full-time nurse. The staff are stretching to fill the gaps and provide the same level of service to students they have in the past, according to Marquez

“Some staff members have had to learn new skills and learn how to take over other responsibilities,” she said.

Several hundred teachers and even more support staff were laid off at the end of the last school year to close the district’s nearly $90 million budget shortfall.

All the same, Kowba said the district has successes to build on from last year including record attendance and a sixth straight year of strong or improved test scores.

“I think that’s a reflection of parent engagement, well-focused kids and a very dedicated teaching staff," he said. "We need all of that to come together again for a seventh year in a row and to be a positive place for kids to come and learn.”

The district may face additional budget cuts in December if state revenues do not reach ambitious targets set in June.

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