School board nixes transportation cuts

By Sarah Sapeda

City News Service

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education rejected a proposal which would have eliminated bus service to some 6,000 students and cut up to 50 positions in the transportation department.

Board members voted 4-1 Tuesday to not make additional cuts to a previously passed motion which cut $7.85 million from the transportation budget, effecting more than 4,000 students. Board member Kevin Beiser cast the sole opposing vote.

The board rejected a motion to cut non-mandated bus service to approximately 6,000 students that would have saved an estimated $3.1 million per year, instead coming up with a five-year plan to reduce transportation costs that will be presented in November.

"The key in terms of budget savings over time is being creative, innovative and efficient,'' board President Richard Barrera said.

The board voted to increase transportation fees $80 each year for the next two years, raising the base fee from $340 to $420, next year, for each family's first rider with reduced fees for additional children. Barrera was the only member who opposed the increase.

The board also voted 3-2 to issue a notice to Promise Charter School, based on claims it violated several laws including failing to report allegations of ongoing inappropriate relationships between students and teachers to Child Protective Services which resulted in a teacher's dismissal in January.

Board members Sheila Jackson and Scott Barnett voted against the motion, in favor of a failed proposition in which district staff would work with school officials to fix problems, allowing the school to keep its charter.

The board notified Promise Charter School officials of the violations April 12, and the school was given until May 20, to refute or remedy all the alleged violations, but the district claims the school failed to do so.

Barrera said action was necessary and told the board to "move forward with the next step of this process, that the current administration of the school will take it seriously.''

The school faced numerous other law and policy violations, including an alleged incident in which the school's principal had a district official escorted off the premises.

The school also had too many students in classes and allowed students who were did not meet age requirements to enter kindergarten. The district also claimed the school did not meet requirements in teaching English as a second language.

School officials are also accused of financial mismanagement and for failing to disclose transaction summaries and failure to classify expenses on statements.

"There are repeated, repeated violations,'' said board Vice President John Lee Evans. "There are certain standards that need to be maintained.''

The board will hold a public hearing June 28, to hear testimony from school and district staff to support or oppose the revocation the charter. The board will then have 30 days to take action.



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