Budget cuts are where education tends to get personal. It’s easy to miss school board meetings or informational sessions. But even parents who otherwise don’t pay attention to education news get involved when their child’s favorite teacher or principal gets sent away.

Principals and parents are bracing for cuts as San Diego Unified School District staff prepare a budget for trustees that could include layoffs to close a $124 million shortfall. The superintendent wrote that she would seek creative solutions to make sure class sizes remain unchanged.

Every time school budget problems are in the news, readers always want to know: What about the California Lottery money that’s supposed to be sent to schools? Public records show state lottery money is often a small drop in a much larger bucket that is a school district’s annual budget.

San Diego Unified officials earlier this month announced they’d need to cut at least $116.6 million in spending to balance next year’s budget, and identified three broad areas where the cuts would come from. But the district can’t say what those three areas currently cost. If the central office can cut $44 million, what is that $44 million from?