San Diego Unified could dip $2.5 million into the hole next spring because California is putting off payments to schools, even more than the school district had been expecting.

Its finance chief says that makes it impossible for the school district to rehire any more of its jettisoned employees. It could also force them to let go more school workers who don’t teach.

“This is a very sobering report,” Superintendent Bill Kowba said. “The common theme is incredible risk from one week to the next.”

Nearly half of its day-to-day state money will come in late, putting it at risk of going into the red. San Diego Unified can still count on the money in its budget. But it has to borrow to cover its costs until it actually comes in. So the $36 million in surprise revenue the district got in the wake of the budget’s passing only means $20 million in cash this coming year.

The California budget was widely greeted as good news for schools, giving them roughly the same amount of bread-and-butter funding as last year. With that unexpected money, San Diego Unified added more than 300 jobs for elementary school teachers to keep class sizes from ballooning next year.

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Bringing back teachers was cheered by parents and the teachers union, but financial hawks warned that the money to restore those jobs was uncertain, relying on rosy projections from the state that may or may not pan out.

This is another, completely different risk for school budgets: not how much money they will get, but what to do when they don’t get the money when they need it. California has pushed off payments to schools as a budget gimmick.

That frustrates school districts because it means they have to borrow to get money they’re supposed to have. School districts like San Diego Unified have been promised a check. They need cash.

Chief Financial Officer Ron Little said San Diego Unified will try to keep itself above water in the spring by recovering some unreimbursed costs from the state and freezing its hiring. Its last resort would be laying off workers who don’t teach, who can be let go in the middle of the school year.

The school district also fears that other unexpected costs could worsen its cash problems to the tune of another $5 million to $7 million, including paying to settle labor disputes and the added costs of covering mental health services that used to be shouldered by counties.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

    This article relates to: Education, News
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    Written by Emily Alpert

    36 comments
    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad subscriber

    Can you say "delusional disorder"?

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad

    Can you say "delusional disorder"?

    Michelle Montali
    Michelle Montali subscriber

    Ever heard of object permanence? The awareness that things still exist even when they're hidden from sight--or society--is usually established by 12 months of age, but there are always developmental differences.

    Montali
    Montali

    Ever heard of object permanence? The awareness that things still exist even when they're hidden from sight--or society--is usually established by 12 months of age, but there are always developmental differences.

    Dennis Schamp
    Dennis Schamp subscriber

    For what it's worth, I'm pleased to pass on that, after 52 days of waiting, wringing hands and gnashing teeth, I am in receipt of my letter of recall to the SDUSD, received in the mail today. I'll be back at Lewis for the 11/12 school year. You may now add back the "T" to the "BD" in future comments.

    Dennis Schamp
    Dennis Schamp

    For what it's worth, I'm pleased to pass on that, after 52 days of waiting, wringing hands and gnashing teeth, I am in receipt of my letter of recall to the SDUSD, received in the mail today. I'll be back at Lewis for the 11/12 school year. You may now add back the "T" to the "BD" in future comments.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad subscriber

    Sorry for the poor grammar and bad spelling of my post above - written from a mobile device ;---) Of course the teachers will (and should) say - that's NO EXCUSE!

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad

    Sorry for the poor grammar and bad spelling of my post above - written from a mobile device ;---) Of course the teachers will (and should) say - that's NO EXCUSE!

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad subscriber

    This economy just sucks and, if people haven't noticed, the shared sacrifice goes deep into the private sector as well.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad

    This economy just sucks and, if people haven't noticed, the shared sacrifice goes deep into the private sector as well.

    Glenn Boogren
    Glenn Boogren subscriber

    Most people are unaware that some employee groups, prior to last summers negotiated 5 furlough days, were already given 6 furlough days which has been the case for several years. So I now have 11 furlough days per year with the potential for an additional 7 furlough days if the State's rosy budget projections do not materialize & mid year cuts are needed. Does that qualify as a sacrifice yet??? BTW, the salary structure and step increases are far different for classified staff and max out for each position after 5 years.

    Glenn B
    Glenn B

    Most people are unaware that some employee groups, prior to last summers negotiated 5 furlough days, were already given 6 furlough days which has been the case for several years. So I now have 11 furlough days per year with the potential for an additional 7 furlough days if the State's rosy budget projections do not materialize & mid year cuts are needed. Does that qualify as a sacrifice yet??? BTW, the salary structure and step increases are far different for classified staff and max out for each position after 5 years.

    Dennis Schamp
    Dennis Schamp subscriber

    Many of you state that hope is not a strategy. Unfortunately, it's all many of us have left. Hopefully, the district will be able to keep their budget in the black for the next few years. Hopefully, the students will all have teachers come September. Hopefully, I'll get recalled...It's been 48 days since recalls were announced for elementary teachers, and I'm still waiting for HR to issue those notices. If their info is correct, I'll be teaching in the coming year. But until the official announcement is made, just call me...Big Daddy. Hopefully, the T will return.

    Dennis Schamp
    Dennis Schamp

    Many of you state that hope is not a strategy. Unfortunately, it's all many of us have left. Hopefully, the district will be able to keep their budget in the black for the next few years. Hopefully, the students will all have teachers come September. Hopefully, I'll get recalled...It's been 48 days since recalls were announced for elementary teachers, and I'm still waiting for HR to issue those notices. If their info is correct, I'll be teaching in the coming year. But until the official announcement is made, just call me...Big Daddy. Hopefully, the T will return.

    Dennis
    Dennis subscriber

    If we could lock you and around 4-5 others in our local education (Big Daddy T being one) in a room for a week to come up with tough, but sound solutions, I feel strongly that a tough but fair outcome would prevail.

    Dennis Michael
    Dennis Michael

    If we could lock you and around 4-5 others in our local education (Big Daddy T being one) in a room for a week to come up with tough, but sound solutions, I feel strongly that a tough but fair outcome would prevail.

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa subscriber

    I can't afford to keep subsidizing private developers who charge twice the going rate and then suck tax revenue away from schools for 40 years.

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa

    I can't afford to keep subsidizing private developers who charge twice the going rate and then suck tax revenue away from schools for 40 years.

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa subscriber

    Shall I share my NCLB analogy now?

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa

    Shall I share my NCLB analogy now?

    Michelle Montali
    Michelle Montali subscriber

    Yes, I probably should "scream." But I'm too tired.

    Montali
    Montali

    Yes, I probably should "scream." But I'm too tired.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad subscriber

    Finally - I read a lot of sandi.net (and work hard to navigate it), education weekly and other publications, visit my schools, visit charter schools, study budgets and District operations and directly to your point, have taught, have TA'd, have spent time in classrooms, have spent time at the District offices, do know my School Board Trustee and three others, have many teacher friends, some of which live in Scripps Ranch Pt Loma and La Jolla (as well as other communities throughout San Diego) and I'm intimately involved in empowering, engaging and working to mobilize parents to make a difference and that includes protecting teachers and the work they do.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad

    Finally - I read a lot of sandi.net (and work hard to navigate it), education weekly and other publications, visit my schools, visit charter schools, study budgets and District operations and directly to your point, have taught, have TA'd, have spent time in classrooms, have spent time at the District offices, do know my School Board Trustee and three others, have many teacher friends, some of which live in Scripps Ranch Pt Loma and La Jolla (as well as other communities throughout San Diego) and I'm intimately involved in empowering, engaging and working to mobilize parents to make a difference and that includes protecting teachers and the work they do.

    Dennis
    Dennis subscriber

    Steve. I admire your passion, intelligence and thought, but I cannot stomach asking teachers to constantly give back when $64,000 is not what it used to be and before you rail again about benefits, rail against the cost of rising health insurance...something out of the control of the teachers and their unions.

    Dennis Michael
    Dennis Michael

    Steve. I admire your passion, intelligence and thought, but I cannot stomach asking teachers to constantly give back when $64,000 is not what it used to be and before you rail again about benefits, rail against the cost of rising health insurance...something out of the control of the teachers and their unions.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad subscriber

    The complete educational idiocy in support of fiduciary lunacy is unsustainable and the piper is wanting payment and our kids pay, pay, and pay some more.

    ScrippsDad
    ScrippsDad

    The complete educational idiocy in support of fiduciary lunacy is unsustainable and the piper is wanting payment and our kids pay, pay, and pay some more.

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa subscriber

    I'll pay you someday if you teach our children today.

    mlaiuppa
    mlaiuppa

    I'll pay you someday if you teach our children today.


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