District declines to make personnel cuts; budget balance threatened

By City News Service

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday threw its 2010-11 budget out of balance when it declined to make personnel cuts that were earlier incorporated into its spending plan, but the budget could soon be back in balance.

Resolutions to eliminate 17 positions in the San Diego Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting Program - mainly health services workers - and five spots in an English language tutoring program failed to pass because of 2-2 ties, with Shelia Jackson and John De Beck dissenting.

Board President Richard Barrera did not attend because he was traveling to Australia.

Superintendent Bill Kowba said the actions cost the district $400,000 and put its hard-won balanced budget at risk.

The district is required to have a balanced budget, and the board made millions of dollars of cuts to bring the ledger into line for the upcoming academic year.

The San Diego County Board of Education is set to certify the district’s budget in less than two weeks. Kowba said the district could receive a “conditional certification” instead of a more favorable “positive certification.”

“This is a negative on our credit rating,” Kowba said.

However, the situation could be resolved later this week. Board member Katherine Nakamura proposed scheduling a special board meeting when Barrera can participate by telephone and break the ties.

Trustees made the job cuts part of its 2010-11 budget because of a loss of funding for the two programs. Some of the positions are currently vacant.

Jackson declined to state her opposition to the cuts, but she frequently votes against eliminating employees.

De Beck said he did not believe the numbers presented to the board were accurate.