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San Diego Unified Says A $155 Million Budget Shortfall Is Possible For Next Year

The San Diego Unified School District headquarters is shown on March 19, 2020.

Photo by Zoë Meyers / inewsource

Above: The San Diego Unified School District headquarters is shown on March 19, 2020.

The county’s largest school district has been able to scrape by financially during the pandemic thanks to money from the CARES Act that the U.S. Congress passed in March.

But without another injection of cash from the federal government and additional support from the state, San Diego Unified School District projects a $155 million budget deficit for the 2021-2022 school year, according to estimates released this week.

Listen to this story by Joe Hong.

“If we had a new federal stimulus, if we had a cost of living adjustment for next year, that would wipe away that entire $155 million shortfall, but we’ll obviously know more over the next six weeks,” said Richard Barrera, vice president of the board of trustees.

RELATED: San Diego Unified Delays In-Person Learning Due To COVID-19 Surge

Barrera said he doesn’t expect any layoffs this year. This is due in part to the 370 district employees who recently accepted buyout offers from the district.

District officials have reasons to be optimistic. With Joe Biden entering the Whitehouse and higher-than-expected tax revenues in California this fiscal year, Barrera said the current deficit projection represents a worst case scenario.

“We certainly expect that we’re going to see an improvement in the revenue picture that will bring that number down,” he said.

RELATED: San Diego County Students Are Failing Classes At Higher Rates Amid Pandemic

That said, Barrera expects public schools to remain underfunded. And in the aftermath of the pandemic, he said public education will need more resources than ever.

“That will likely be a multi-year challenge that we’re gonna see after we come out of the pandemic,” he said. “So this issue again of the chronic underfunding of public education in California is still very much with us.”

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Joe Hong
Education Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an education reporter, I'm always looking for stories about learning. My favorite education stories put a student's face on bigger policy issues. I regularly sift through enrollment data, test scores and school budgets, but telling student-centered stories is my top priority.

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