La Jolla High bracing for budget news

By Kathy Day

Staff Writer

It’s been nearly two weeks since La Jolla High School Principal Dana Shelburne submitted his “budget book” to the district office.

On Thursday, he and the other La Jolla principals may find out what San Diego schools Supt. Bill Kowba thinks of their ideas — and those of principals across the district who were asked to submit spending plans for their schools.

Shelburne, in an interview last week, said each school was given a target number — per pupil, depending on the size of the school. He was given enough, he said, for 57 teachers and one principal and $733 per student “to buy everything else.”

This year the staff includes 13 classified employees, 59 teachers, four counselors, two vice principals and Shelburne. Add on custodians and cafeteria staff and there are 110, although gardeners, custodians and cafeteria workers come out of a districtwide pot.

“The dilemma,” he said, “is that if we put everyone in as it was and don’t cut any people, we have zero for supplies and are still $225,000 to $235,000 short. …We have no money to buy toilet paper.”

At the moment, he said, he is faced with possibly cutting three positions and possibly a fourth, depending on whether one person decides to retire or not.

He added that “if I have to cut something else, I may have to cut someone who teaches a specific program,” although he would not specify which one.

What, he wondered aloud, would he do without counselors? Or does he keep vice principals because they, like counselors, can double up as teachers?

In 2008, the La Jolla High Foundation rallied behind its teachers and raised more than $100,000 to preserve several positions, and Foundation President Sandy Coggan Erickson said they are currently organizing an effort to pitch in again this year, although the goal this time will be to fill in the “supply-side” and technology gaps.

She said two parents have agreed to head up the campaign, which will be announced within a few weeks. They also are continuing to hold regular fundraising events like their April 18 golf tournament and the annual Vikings, Vines and Vintners event.

This year, each principal was asked to determine how to spend the money, even if it meant using the “everything else” funds to cover vice principals, counselors, nurses and other staff.

The per-student allocation is based on a formula that calculates costs based on school size, with smaller schools receiving more per student, Shelburne explained.

For La Jolla High, that allocation for next year is $3737.61; this year it was $4,032.38.

Shelburne said the “system is itself is full of difficult issues.”

Teachers must be notified by March 15 if there is a possibility they won’t be needed the following year. Then, seniority must be considered as well.

Once you’re done counting heads, he said, you have to look at program cuts.

“I believe we won’t see a real dimunition in the students’ day-to-day experience,” the veteran educator said. “These are adult problems. The kids shouldn’t be part of the solution. We want their year to look like the last one and not for them to suddenly find there’s no auto shop.”

Already, he said, he has taken away added preparatory periods for things like supervising student government. Collecting five prep periods, he said, saves a teacher.

In the end, he said, “Behind the scenes fewer people will be doing more work.”

If you go

• Board of Education Special Budget Meeting

• Feb. 10, 5p.m.

• Eugene Brucker Education Center Auditorium, 4100 Normal St.

• Open to the public.

• Link to meeting agenda: http://



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