Music, art teacher jobs saved

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously this week to rescind layoff notices to music and arts teachers at the expense of some administrative and classified positions.

The number of music and arts teachers who were spared from being laid off was not immediately known. The $1.3 million to pay them will come from cutting two assistant superintendent and two administrative support positions which were spared at a previous meeting.

A motion to restore smaller class sizes in kindergarten through third grade at the expense of more than 100 classified positions was rejected on a 4- 1 vote, with board member Scott Barnett, who introduced the motion, casting the lone yes vote.

“There is no way this district can function without classified employees,” board member Sheila Jackson said. “I do believe in class size reductions, but I also believe in stable schools.”

Instead, the board voted 3-2 to approve a motion to restore smaller class sizes upon adoption of a state budget which allows the district additional revenue. Barnett and Board Vice President John Lee Evans voted against the motion.

Superintendent Bill Kowba said restorations were not currently possible because the district had “an empty bank account,” and already was forced to borrow money to meet payroll demands. Even without restorations, the district is expected to deficit spend some $60 million next year.

“We basically have a gun to our head saying freeze, don't move, don't make any changes, don't do anything,” Evans said of the district borrowing more money to rescind layoffs which it may not be able to pay back without cutting from elsewhere in the budget.

During today's meeting, the board also heard a tentative reading of the budget it is required to pass before the July 1 deadline. The options presented by Chief Financial Officer Ron Little reflected cuts of nearly $115 million because of Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of the state budget last week which caused uncertainty to district revenue.

Some of the money-saving measures presented were to close or consolidate 10 schools, sell off some district property and raise the number of students in classes to 29 in each class. The district can also make an additional personnel cuts and negotiate salary concessions, to which union leader Bill Freeman was skeptical.

“Why do think we'll come to you and trust you now,” Freeman said to the board after Barnett criticized him for not being willing to negotiate to save jobs. The budget is expected to be adopted next Tuesday.

Categories: KUSI