Kowba: Mid-year budget cuts could have dire consequences

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego Unified School District would need to
lay off employees, sell property and cash in reserves if mid-year budget cuts
of more than $30 million become necessary, according to a report to the Board
of Education this week.

Additionally, the mid-year cuts could cause a budget deficit of up to
$118 million for the 2012-13 academic year, which would then require even more
staff reductions and concessions from retained employees, such as deferred
raises and a continued five-day furlough, Superintendent Bill Kowba reported,
noting any potential budget solutions would have dire consequences.

The district may also have to close 10 or more schools and sell off more
property next year, as well as increase class sizes, and make cuts to
athletics and school security if state tax revenues fall below projections and
education funding is reduced, a scenario which already appeared likely, Kowba
said. Even without mid-year cuts the district could face a $60 million
shortfall for the next academic year.

“We've downsized, right-sized, consolidated, streamlined and any other
fancy management theory I've talked about, but in reality what we've done is
slashed, reorganized and closed,” Kowba said. “And yet that hasn't been
enough.”

Board members feared state officials could take control of district
operations if SDUSD loses its fiscal solvency, meaning the district cannot
afford to continue the programs it is legally required to provide. Some board
members called for voters to ask elected officials to stop school funding cuts.

“The solution to these problems is clear. We have got to let our
representatives in Sacramento know that we will not take it anymore,” said
board member Kevin Beiser. “Let them know that we're fed up, we're done. We
have to have enough money to educate our kids.”

Officials said the district is in its sixth consecutive year of
cutbacks. The district has cut some $450 million from the general fund since
2007, and eliminated 15 percent of its staff since 2008.

“This incessant education budget spiral must stop for the good of our
students, our school district and our community,” Kowba said.

The board today also approved sending a request to the state Department
of Education to declare emergency conditions for the Sept. 9 blackout, which
forced district schools to close. If the request is granted, the district would
receive credit for $3.4 million in state attendance and instructional time
funding lost during the outage.

Categories: KUSI