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School Board Facing New Cuts In The New Year

— California schools were largely spared from mid-year cuts that loomed last month. But San Diego school trustees will hear about new, deeper cuts included in Gov. Jerry Brown’s draft budget during their first meeting of the year this week.

The draft includes a $4.8-billion cut to K-12 education spending if voters reject a temporary tax increase that will appear on November’s ballot.

That could mean a $50-million cut for San Diego schools in the middle of the school year on top of the $72-million budget gap the district already faces for the fall, said district spokesman Bernie Rhinerson.

Board of Education President John Lee Evans said there aren’t legally viable ways to make such a large cut mid-year.

“What we would have to do is plan our budget according to what money they are actually assuring us that we’re going to have, not just money that we’re maybe going to have. That’s going to be problematic in terms of figuring out how much we’re actually going to be able to count on,” he said.

Brown’s budget would change the state’s school funding structure. Instead of distributing a flat dollar amount per student, additional money would be allotted for disadvantaged students. It would also move money earmarked for programs like class-size reduction into the general funding pool, and end mandates that schools provide those programs.

Class-size reduction has been a priority for San Diego Unified trustees. Last summer the district rehired about 300 teachers with $27 million restored by the final state budget in order to keep student-to-teacher ratios in Kindergarten through third grade classrooms at 24 to 1.

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