School funding remains unresolved

As students while away their summer vacation hanging out with friends, swimming at the beach, traveling and just kicking back, school administrators continue to struggle with a funding shortfall and unresolved staffing issues.

Some school officials worry that the state budget will still not be finalized when students return to classrooms in six weeks.

“We’re all taking our best guess,” said Dana Shelburne, principal at La Jolla High. “We’re all working without a net. We’re all working on assumptions.”

Pink slips went out to first- and second-year teachers in January, with a second round being dispatched in March as part of a state-wide education funding reduction in response to a projected massive state budget shortfall. La Jolla High School stood to lose one English teacher, one social studies teacher, two world language teachers, a counselor and a librarian.

Since then, pink slips for counselors and English teachers have been rescinded.

“The problem (school district) officials have is they don’t know how to return those resources in an equitable fashion,” Shelburne said.

He said he still has four teachers who don’t know where or if they’ll be working when the school year starts. Two are probationary teachers and two face being transferred because the school doesn’t have money to pay their salaries.

“I have received no additional monies since I’ve submitted my budget,” Shelburne said.

While the situation remains critical for many schools, Shelburne has a few tricks up his sleeve he hopes will keep things unchanged at the high school. He may have to convert an administrative position to a teaching designation, and the school foundation raised more than $90,000 to cover teacher salaries.

“If I didn’t have the parents who raised the money, I wouldn’t have been able to save anything,” Shelburne said. “For La Jolla High School, I think the end result will be that we’ll offer everything we offered last year simply because we had enough money to plug the gap for one year. But after that, it’s anyone’s guess.”

In the meantime, school officials are trying to prepare for the upcoming school year. It may be an exercise in futility because the state budget, when finalized, could throw all of their plans into disarray.

As it is, Shelburne said administrators are worried and frustrated.

The master class schedule has classes without a designated teacher, teachers are uncertain what courses they’ll be teaching and students may have to be shuffled to adjust class size.

“The goal is to keep this as far away from the kids as possible,” Shelburne said. “I’m a big believer that these are adult issues and kids should not be paying the price.”

Comment from other La Jolla schools was not available due to summer closures.


Draft of 2008-09 Budget