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    There were only two items on tonight’s San Diego Unified School Board meeting agenda, but one of them was a biggie.

    The board voted 4-1 Tuesday night to approve sending final layoff notices to 1,534 employees, bringing those layoffs a big step closer to reality. Board Vice President Scott Barnett cast the dissenting vote, urging his colleagues to instead rescind the layoffs and send the district into insolvency and state takeover.

    The vote, the latest move in a long process that began in March, showed the board isn’t backing down on its plan to start the next school year with more than 1,500 fewer teachers, counselors and nurses in city schools. The district says the layoffs are required to close a budget deficit of between $80 million and $122 million next year.


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    All but about 100 of the laid off workers are teachers. That means about 1,400 of the district’s 7,000 teachers — or one of five — are slated to be let go.

    A large demonstration from teachers and parents, and more than an hour of passionate public testimony didn’t sway the board from a decision most of the trustees and Superintendent Bill Kowba said was both necessary and regrettable.

    “We’ve reached a point where there is a new normal,” Kowba said. “This new normal has placed us in a situation where we now talk about staffing reductions in the hundreds.”

    Chief Human Resources Officer Lamont Jackson told the crowd that “a few hundred” of the layoff notices will eventually be rescinded in coming months, as the district learns that teachers are retiring or taking leaves of absence. But he said the district hasn’t issued a single notice that isn’t absolutely necessary.

    “When 90 percent of your budget is salary and benefits and you need to cut millions of dollars, you have to cut, simple,” Jackson said.

    It’s the second straight year in which the district has had to issue large-scale layoffs.

    On the evening’s second item, the board voted 4-1 to pass a resolution stating essentially that the board isn’t about to go insolvent and that the board will do everything it can to balance the district’s budget. This is the resolution School Board President John Lee Evans said last week that he would ask the board to vote in an effort to assuage Wall Street that the district has its finances in order.

    Barnett, who was the lone vote against that resolution too, said the school board’s statements on the document were inaccurate, since they didn’t describe the district’s full fiscal woes.

    “I think this an important cautionary tale to our employees. This is not a resolution about the Boy Scouts,” Barnett said. “You are stating to the bond markets who we are going to borrow money from, that this is an accurate assessment of our finances and I believe that’s not true.”

    Will Carless is an investigative reporter at Voice of San Diego currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

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      This article relates to: Education, News, Public Safety

      Written by Will Carless

      Will Carless is the former head of investigations at Voice of San Diego. He currently lives in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he is a freelance foreign correspondent and occasional contributor to VOSD. You can reach him at will.carless.work@gmail.com.

      90 comments
      Mark Giffin
      Mark Giffin subscribermember

      The kids are nothing more than collateral damage in this saga.

      mgland
      mgland

      The kids are nothing more than collateral damage in this saga.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      That being said, there is no more wrong with the state providing a good education for a wealthy person as there is for a poor person. Every child deserves a voucher if it gives them the best education available, and no child deserves to be in some marginal school where social advancement is the norm and where teachers are willing to throw kids under the bus for a a few extra bucks in each paycheck.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      That being said, there is no more wrong with the state providing a good education for a wealthy person as there is for a poor person. Every child deserves a voucher if it gives them the best education available, and no child deserves to be in some marginal school where social advancement is the norm and where teachers are willing to throw kids under the bus for a a few extra bucks in each paycheck.

      Craig Nelson
      Craig Nelson subscribermember

      When you figure out how to live within your means, only then will it be a story.

      Craig Nelson
      Craig Nelson

      When you figure out how to live within your means, only then will it be a story.

      john kaleto
      john kaleto subscriber

      The real argument against vouchers is even simpler than Jim "Voucher" Jones and his 1000+ anti-public-education posts suggest: They're just a way for wealthy parents to get a subsidy from the state.

      kaleto
      kaleto

      The real argument against vouchers is even simpler than Jim "Voucher" Jones and his 1000+ anti-public-education posts suggest: They're just a way for wealthy parents to get a subsidy from the state.

      john kaleto
      john kaleto subscriber

      If private schools can afford to charge less per pupil (which apparently they don't), it's because, unlike public schools, they're not obliged to accept ALL students, including those who cost a lot more to educate (at-risk, special ed., English learners, etc.).

      kaleto
      kaleto

      If private schools can afford to charge less per pupil (which apparently they don't), it's because, unlike public schools, they're not obliged to accept ALL students, including those who cost a lot more to educate (at-risk, special ed., English learners, etc.).

      Amanda Hammond-Williams
      Amanda Hammond-Williams subscriber

      I am in favor of extending furloughs (preferably from the end of the school year not the middle), postponing COLAs and raises, and sucking it up for another year or two so we can continue doing right for the children of SD. It will take SDEA doing a 180 to make this happen.

      anotherview
      anotherview

      I am in favor of extending furloughs (preferably from the end of the school year not the middle), postponing COLAs and raises, and sucking it up for another year or two so we can continue doing right for the children of SD. It will take SDEA doing a 180 to make this happen.

      David Cohen
      David Cohen subscriber

      The idea circulated here that "parents" pay $10,000 per student for public education is farcical. My wife and I pay the property, income and sales taxes the same as everyone else and have never had, nor will ever have, students in the school system. Paying for public education is a shared, civic responsibility, not just the responsibility of "parents."

      fryefan
      fryefan

      The idea circulated here that "parents" pay $10,000 per student for public education is farcical. My wife and I pay the property, income and sales taxes the same as everyone else and have never had, nor will ever have, students in the school system. Paying for public education is a shared, civic responsibility, not just the responsibility of "parents."

      Rick Johnson
      Rick Johnson subscriber

      The city could benefit a lot if you teachers put your foot down and demand improvements to the product.

      Simplat
      Simplat

      The city could benefit a lot if you teachers put your foot down and demand improvements to the product.

      Stuart Morse
      Stuart Morse subscriber

      Jim, clever argument, but not quite the entire story. What ever the actual amount of $ the state spends per pupil, and for argument sake we will use your figure of $10,000, how much actually makes it to the school? As I am sure you know, the per pupil $ amount is not even close to what the school gets. In fact, the actual amount secondary schools receive is between $673 and $1030 per pupil (http://www.sandi.net/cms/lib/CA01001235/Centricity/Domain/6316/SDUSD_Site_Base_Budget_Overview.pdf ). If each school site received $10,00 per pupil, it would be an entirely different story. So Jim, as you can see, there is quite a bit more to the story :)

      smorse
      smorse

      Jim, clever argument, but not quite the entire story. What ever the actual amount of $ the state spends per pupil, and for argument sake we will use your figure of $10,000, how much actually makes it to the school? As I am sure you know, the per pupil $ amount is not even close to what the school gets. In fact, the actual amount secondary schools receive is between $673 and $1030 per pupil (http://www.sandi.net/cms/lib/CA01001235/Centricity/Domain/6316/SDUSD_Site_Base_Budget_Overview.pdf ). If each school site received $10,00 per pupil, it would be an entirely different story. So Jim, as you can see, there is quite a bit more to the story :)

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      When it's put in a voucher and given to a private school so some kid can have a much better education than the public schools deliver, please don't complain because by your own logic you are losing nothing, since you don't charge anything. :)

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      When it's put in a voucher and given to a private school so some kid can have a much better education than the public schools deliver, please don't complain because by your own logic you are losing nothing, since you don't charge anything. :)

      Stuart Morse
      Stuart Morse subscriber

      @JimJones. I thought I just read that you claim private schools charge less than public schools. Do you mean less the the $0 tuition public schools charge? By law, public schools are not allowed to charge ANYTHING for their educational services.

      smorse
      smorse

      @JimJones. I thought I just read that you claim private schools charge less than public schools. Do you mean less the the $0 tuition public schools charge? By law, public schools are not allowed to charge ANYTHING for their educational services.

      john kaleto
      john kaleto subscriber

      You mean the private schools that AREN'T funded by tax-exempt religious institutions? Offhand, I'd say it's a combination of not having politicians in control of their funding, the freedom to reject students that cost more to educate (at-risk, special ed., English learners, etc.) and, like you say, the ability to simply charge more.

      kaleto
      kaleto

      You mean the private schools that AREN'T funded by tax-exempt religious institutions? Offhand, I'd say it's a combination of not having politicians in control of their funding, the freedom to reject students that cost more to educate (at-risk, special ed., English learners, etc.) and, like you say, the ability to simply charge more.

      Diana Hearn
      Diana Hearn subscriber

      Schools need to be run like a business. If they can't operate successfully, both financially and educationally, they need to be closed.

      Life-Long Educator
      Life-Long Educator

      Schools need to be run like a business. If they can't operate successfully, both financially and educationally, they need to be closed.

      Joshua Robinson
      Joshua Robinson subscriber

      Public schools are not a company, they produce no real product that makes profits. Teachers have no monopoly over anything. They don't enjoy some fantastical pay while encouraging kids to fail. While I applaud your private sector work, you are seriously misinformed about public education and social services. They are not the same as a corporation.

      hellrod
      hellrod

      Public schools are not a company, they produce no real product that makes profits. Teachers have no monopoly over anything. They don't enjoy some fantastical pay while encouraging kids to fail. While I applaud your private sector work, you are seriously misinformed about public education and social services. They are not the same as a corporation.

      john kaleto
      john kaleto subscriber

      mattK put his finger on a major reason the district finds itself in a financial hole every year: the mushrooming of charter schools. Each year the district adds more charters, draining the number of students it would have received money for. At this rate, they'll soon be losing $100,000,000 EVERY YEAR to all the charters.

      kaleto
      kaleto

      mattK put his finger on a major reason the district finds itself in a financial hole every year: the mushrooming of charter schools. Each year the district adds more charters, draining the number of students it would have received money for. At this rate, they'll soon be losing $100,000,000 EVERY YEAR to all the charters.

      David Cohen
      David Cohen subscriber

      To all restaurant owners--and other taxpayers--out there: Don't spend any of that "tax reduction" until you have it in your pocket. And find something useful to do while you are waiting for it.

      fryefan
      fryefan

      To all restaurant owners--and other taxpayers--out there: Don't spend any of that "tax reduction" until you have it in your pocket. And find something useful to do while you are waiting for it.

      Irvin krick
      Irvin krick subscriber

      All we can do is hope the economy inproves in order to bring in the tax dollars for schools. But, then we have to watch the politicans and unions they do not steal or misuse the tax dollars. I still believe we in Caifornia do have the tax money but, is being funneled into the wrong areas (pockets). If the all the people have noticed, all these politicans are very quite.

      Irv
      Irv

      All we can do is hope the economy inproves in order to bring in the tax dollars for schools. But, then we have to watch the politicans and unions they do not steal or misuse the tax dollars. I still believe we in Caifornia do have the tax money but, is being funneled into the wrong areas (pockets). If the all the people have noticed, all these politicans are very quite.

      ScrippsDad
      ScrippsDad subscriber

      Do we stop our efforts on Sacramento - never. Do we try and keep our house in order while the politicians screw our District and our kids; whatever it takes to protect our children and their education.

      ScrippsDad
      ScrippsDad

      Do we stop our efforts on Sacramento - never. Do we try and keep our house in order while the politicians screw our District and our kids; whatever it takes to protect our children and their education.

      Charles Anderson
      Charles Anderson subscriber

      Still hoping a positive solution can be worked out for all parties involved, before all of the young, amazing teachers I've worked with the past few years move out of the district to find jobs elsewhere (yes, other districts are hiring).

      canderson
      canderson

      Still hoping a positive solution can be worked out for all parties involved, before all of the young, amazing teachers I've worked with the past few years move out of the district to find jobs elsewhere (yes, other districts are hiring).

      Michael Szuch
      Michael Szuch subscriber

      I can guarantee one thing out of all of this, this wont be the first year of layoffs, and it wont be the last. San Diego schools will go insolvent, the unions and management will get booted, and it will be a bad time for a while, but good things come to those who wait!

      iseldsply
      iseldsply

      I can guarantee one thing out of all of this, this wont be the first year of layoffs, and it wont be the last. San Diego schools will go insolvent, the unions and management will get booted, and it will be a bad time for a while, but good things come to those who wait!

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      It's not like we didn't know this was coming.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      It's not like we didn't know this was coming.

      Chris Gotberg
      Chris Gotberg subscriber

      Not only do the raises benefit those that keep their job this year, it benefits them for life, as it essentially allows those that can opt for retirement to spike their pension. No veteran teacher is going to retire this year to save a layoff when they can guarantee themselves an extra 10% per year for life.

      cgotberg
      cgotberg

      Not only do the raises benefit those that keep their job this year, it benefits them for life, as it essentially allows those that can opt for retirement to spike their pension. No veteran teacher is going to retire this year to save a layoff when they can guarantee themselves an extra 10% per year for life.

      Fotis Tsimboukakis
      Fotis Tsimboukakis subscribermember

      Am I the only one here who questions the practice of 1:Across the board pay increases for all teachers,per union contract,regardless of performance and 2: Not really looking in to the administrative,health care and retirement benefits restructuring. This is how the private sector survives,realigns and moves forward, in tougher economic times. Cause it's easy when business is good and money is flowing everywhere.

      FrankT
      FrankT

      Am I the only one here who questions the practice of 1:Across the board pay increases for all teachers,per union contract,regardless of performance and 2: Not really looking in to the administrative,health care and retirement benefits restructuring. This is how the private sector survives,realigns and moves forward, in tougher economic times. Cause it's easy when business is good and money is flowing everywhere.

      Andy Zafuto
      Andy Zafuto subscriber

      Okay, Mr. Carless, you, and others, will have your numbers and stats proving my claims. It will take me most of the summer to compile these, but I have a lot of time to do so, since I was laid off. I will file for unemployment, hope to pay my bills, and try to keep a food on the table and shelter for my family.

      andyboy
      andyboy

      Okay, Mr. Carless, you, and others, will have your numbers and stats proving my claims. It will take me most of the summer to compile these, but I have a lot of time to do so, since I was laid off. I will file for unemployment, hope to pay my bills, and try to keep a food on the table and shelter for my family.

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones subscriber

      Omar, the are three choices, raise taxes, lower pay or cut positions. While none of these are great, the best solution for now is to shed teachers since we need to wait till the 2015 contract to cut pay and benefits..

      Jim Jones
      Jim Jones

      Omar, the are three choices, raise taxes, lower pay or cut positions. While none of these are great, the best solution for now is to shed teachers since we need to wait till the 2015 contract to cut pay and benefits..

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