San Diegans are bracing once more for a flurry of layoffs and budget cuts to blow through the school district, as San Diego Unified confronts a $124 million shortfall next year. The cutsmean fewer teachers, fewer non-teaching staffers, fewer programs and fewer teacher work days. The school board approved a plan for cuts on Tuesday, so Ashly McGlone dove in to report the details of what exactly we will be missing next year. “Wish I could tell you,” McGlone writes, as she finds exact details aren’t being made available.
The district’s official statements promote the plan’s silver linings without specifying how many people will lose their jobs or have their hours cut. McGlone went through the official documents and came out with an estimate of 1,500 layoffs looming.
The rest of the bad news is expressed is dollars, like $7.92 million taken from special education, $1.4 million from visual and performing arts and $2.4 million from the district police department. Chances are slim that the cuts will be staved off at the last moment by revised budget numbers or other magic budget fairies, McGlone notes. “Even if [a state budget revision] restores the entirety of what was lost in January, we are still facing more than $100 million in reductions,” McGlone writes.
The Learning Curve: Taboo School Savings
While the district scours every staff position and department looking to free up dollars, there are some options for savings that aren’t on the table. Mario Koran reports on how expensive it is for the district to operate neighborhood schools with populations far lower than their capacity. “Thirty-six elementary schools currently enroll fewer than 400 students in pre-kindergarten and higher, at a net cost of $14.4 million,” Koran reports. Some of those schools are located close to one another; one could imagine a proposal to combine two school populations into one campus and shutting another campus down.
“One former member of the district’s audit and finance committee compared closing neighborhood schools to committing political suicide,” Koran writes. The idea of closing schools is dead on arrival, the district says, due to the relatively small amount of money it would save in comparison to the large impact it would have on students, parents and teachers. Closing a school also opens up an opportunity for a competing charter school to move into the campus and lure students out of public schools. “Avoiding school closures becomes an effective way of blocking charter schools from moving into those facilities,” Koran reports.
‘Legal’ Cannabis: San Diego Explained
Trying to keep up with all the changes happening to the legal status of cannabis production, sale, possession and use is tough. A jumbled mess of medical and recreational prohibitions characterizes California and San Diego County, with some cities preparing an all-out ban while others work to set up regulations for recreational use.