Four years ago, the state changed how it funded public schools shifting money to districts and schools serving poor students. Now, our Maya Srikrishnan reports it’s “nearly impossible” to track the funds in San Diego Unified. As a community member asked recently at a board meeting, “No accountability, no detailed budget, why don’t we know where every cent is going?”
Plenty of people around the state are asking the same question, including local legislator Shirley Weber, who’s pushing a bill to make things more clear: “I could not tell you with any confidence that the money meant to go with kids to special needs is going where it’s supposed to go,” she said. “We shouldn’t fund a low student-teacher ratio across the district. The special grants were built around the idea that it takes more money to equalize a situation and create a level playing field for these kids.”
Fact Check: Student Numbers Down, Staff Up?
San Diego Unified plans to lay off hundreds of staff members, but it’s not responding to a statewide or national economic crisis. Other large districts like Los Angeles Unified and our own South Bay’s Sweetwater Union are cutting back but to a much smaller extent. So why is S.D. Unified having such a problem?
Board member Sharon Whitehurst-Payne claimed that the district kept hiring more and more staffers even as its enrollment dipped: “This district has gone down in enrollment every single year, for I don’t know how many years, and yet we have not reduced the workforce commensurately with that. I mean that’s the reality.”
Is her claim correct? We ran it through San Diego Fact Check. It is. “District staffing numbers have gone up since 2013, even as student enrollment dropped,” reports our Ashly McGlone.
School Board: Now Let’s Check Out That Grad Rate
The school board also voted to form a committee on Tuesday night to review the district’s graduation rate.