La Jolla Cluster hears San Diego Unified School District plans for budget process


San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) took a more expansive approach to budget planning for the 2018-2019 year, integrating a parent survey about what should be considered for reduction or elimination. Although the survey window has closed and the results are being reviewed, SDUSD board trustee Mike McQuary updated the La Jolla Cluster Association about the process, at its Jan. 18 meeting at Muirlands Middle School.

McQuary explained that Gov. Jerry Brown sets a budget in January with what he thinks the Department of Education is going to get, which is revised and updated until the final budget is released in July. “In the meantime, we’re struggling with dealing with numbers that are not guaranteed. But it looks like $78.3 billion will go to education. That comes out to $465 per child, if my number is right,” he said.

The district website elaborated: “Our projected budget shortfall is significantly impacted by increases in costs outside of the district’s immediate control, such as healthcare costs, utilities expenses, and state retirement contributions that are all expected to rise for the foreseeable future. On Dec. 12, 2017, the Board of Education voted to implement a multi-phase approach to balancing the budget. These phases are: Make an across-the-board cut to the central office; direct the district executive team to lead a process that identifies recommended eliminations to central office programs and services.”

This year, to carry out the latter phase, SDUSD included the parent survey because “we told the superintendent we need more engagement about the key issues that affect everybody. That translated to another survey,” McQuary said. “People may or may not like how the survey was structured, but we wanted feedback on that. Feedback is critical. I do and will share the input I get from these things, so I make sure the committee knows what I’m told by parents.”

Last year, SDUSD faced a $124 million deficit and needed to eliminate approximately 1,000 positions across all classifications to create the legally required balanced budget. In La Jolla, as many as 19 teachers were let go or accepted an early retirement offer to comply.

In other Cluster news:

Speaker series: The Cluster will host three speakers in the coming months: Jeff Bucholz will discuss healthy relationships, 7 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 30 at Parker Auditorium, 750 Nautilus St. During the day, he will offer grade-specific lectures on relationships, the parent presentation is at night. John Moffitt will offer tips on smart ways to use digital devices, 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 13 at Parker Auditorium. Sometime in April, Larry Rosen will discuss balancing mindfulness with technology use.

Parent night: Eighth-grade parent night, where moms and dads can familiarize themselves with La Jolla High School, is set for 6 p.m., Monday, Feb. 12. LJHS counselors will discuss the articulation process for incoming eighth-graders, and there will be information booths about clubs, athletics and more. The tours are filled.

— La Jolla Cluster Association next meets 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8 at Muirlands Middle School, 1056 Nautilus St.