School board still considering cuts


City News Service

With state funding reductions looming in the middle of the academic year, the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education met Tuesday to consider ways to cut costs.

Last month, the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office reported the state was on track to fall short of its $4 billion commitment to schools which was based on projected tax revenue and if not reached, would trigger reduced funding to districts statewide.

The San Diego Unified School District, which already anticipated a $65 million shortfall for the 2012-13 school year without the cuts, would stand to lose about $30 million this year, according to district financial staff.

“We have a budget gap that we’re currently facing that will be exacerbated if mid-year cuts occur,” said Chief Financial Officer Ron Little. “Every reduction this year is worth twice as much next year.” Possible solutions presented included eliminating 55 classified staff positions — 15 of them vacant — for an estimated savings of $1.7 million this year and $3.7 million next year, according to Deputy Superintendent Phil Stover.

Immediately enacting a hiring freeze and suspending non-urgent overtime pay could save about $2 million more, Stover said.

The district could also sell off $4.5 million in property, cash in its $22 million reserves and reduce transportation funding to help close the budget gap, he said.

“Really we’re taking it out of the bottom line, which of course will make our problem for next year more serious,” Stover said.

The mid-year reductions could cause the district to fall up to $97 million short in the 2012-13 academic year which could mean deeper cuts.

One potential solution to make ends meet for the district could be to lay off 769 employees, ranging from teachers and administrators to police to maintenance staff and another 58 positions could be bumped down from full time, which could altogether save an estimated $72 million, Little said.

No action was taken on any of the potential mid-year budget solutions at tonight’s meeting, however a vote was expected at next Tuesday’s meeting.

“Simply avoiding making these decisions in a way we can’t balance our budget doesn’t avoid these cuts,” Barrera said.