School board bracing for ‘doomsday budget’

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – It's a school budget scenario that sounds like something out of a horror movie. San Diego Unified School District board members are bracing for what they're calling a 'doomsday budget.' The state could force them to cut another $50 million from a budget that's already been cut by more than $100 million. KUSI's John Soderman has been following the story and files this report.

What these proposed budget cuts will do to schools like Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary School in Clairemont can be described in one word: disastrous.

When it comes to the layoff picture, in the San Diego city school district, employees say it's never been worse. With approximately 900 teachers receiving layoff notices due to a $114 million budget shortfall, employees who work outside the classroom, called “classified” employees, will get hit even worse.

Under the so-called ‘doomsday budget scenario,' if temporary state tax increases aren't extended, the state would tell the district to cut up to $50 million in addition to the $114 million already cut, which would result in over 1400 classified workers receiving layoff notices.

“It's going to mean disaster at the beginning of the school year and all throughout the school year,” says classified workers representative Sylvia Alvarez. “The cuts are going to affect every student in every grade.”

Classified employees include secretaries, cooks, plumbers, painters, gardeners, custodians and school bus drivers.

Alvarez says bus routes are already being cut, and wonders aloud if parents can afford to drive their kids to school in this tough economy.

Meanwhile, the layoff situation involving teachers has some worried that young people will not even want to enter the profession.

“We can't have San Diego State University turning out teachers every year that have nowhere to go,” says Helen Green, a teacher at Morse High School.

And as school board members discuss this doomsday budget scenario, education advocates say a disturbing trend is emerging when it comes to how much the state spends per prison inmate compared to K-12 students.

According to the state legislative analyst's office, California spends over $52,000 per year to incarcerate one prison inmate, while they spend just over $7,000 per year to educate one K-12 school student.

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