School closure prevention plan on hold as author studies district’s finances

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A plan by San Diego Unified School District Trustee
Scott Barnett to prevent the district from becoming insolvent won't get its
first airing before the Board of Education Tuesday after all.

Barnett, who announced details of his plan Monday with an eye toward
introducing it at a 5 p.m. meeting today, said he wants to study district
financial data for a few more weeks.

“I want to ensure all my numbers reflects the latest revenue
projections and anticipated costs to the district,” Barnett said in a
statement e-mailed to reporters. “I look forward to discussing this plan with
my board colleagues and the public in the very near future.”

He invited feedback on his plan, which suggests slicing 10 percent from
salaries, making employees pay for health plans other than Kaiser Permanente,
holding off on pay raises due teachers, and making a second attempt to get
voters to approve a $50 tax on each piece of property within district
boundaries.

His plan would allow for certain other compensation increases and, in
September 2013, return the district calendar to 180 days instead of the current
175.

If the proposed parcel tax passes this time, the pay cuts would be
rescinded in six months, Barnett said.

Last November, a similar ballot measure received barely over 50 percent
support but needed 66 percent to pass. Barnett said support would increase
because voters were more aware of the SDUSD's perilous financial condition.

The parcel tax idea drew fire from District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who
called on the district to address “workforce expenditures” like the city
and county governments have. Dumanis is running for mayor of San Diego.

Barnett said employee costs make up 90 percent of the district's general
fund spending, so any plan to deal with a projected budget shortfall in the
2012-13 school year had to deal with personnel expenses. The budget gap could
reach over $100 million, he said.

Other items involving SDUSD finances remain on the agenda, including a
budget update from Superintendent Bill Kowba and proposals from Board of
Education member John Lee Evans.

Categories: KUSI