SDUSD’s hope for budget ‘miracle’ unrealistic
by John de Beck SDUSD board member for beach community schools in Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Pacific Beach, Mission Bay, Bird Rock and La Jolla
Feb 19, 2009 | 770 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sixty million dollars is a lot of money. Since payroll is 80 percent of a school district's budget, the current 2010 shortfall for San Diego city schools amounts to $48 million in lost jobs.

I have made a proposal that would preserve all of the jobs. But action is required now. So far, I am speaking to myself.

Picking away at the deficit remains the current board majority's attempt to balance a budget. The newly elected group is hanging their hat on bits and pieces of the immense total. If one ignores the $48 million, as they seem to be doing, you are dealing with books and supplies, water, heat and electricity.

These overhead items are not easily cut, and tinkering around the margin may save a few million, but doing that is like sticking one’s head in the sand to avoid danger.

The net effect of inaction is poorly considered massive cuts or a negative certification by the county superintendent.

The negative certification will increase the costs of Proposition S bonds, and can require appointment of a district czar to oversee the operations of the school system. Then the board will not have any decisions to make, because the new district czar will have the power to decide on his/her own.

To put this 2009-10 financial shortfall in perspective, the $48 million amounts to the beginning salaries of 1,000 teachers. That represents about one-sixth of the teaching staff. Ignoring it is a total lack of fiscal competency.

The miracle expected by the board majority includes federal bailouts; stealing the required district 2 percent reserve of $20 million ($60 milion minus $20 million equals $40 million — thus 80 percent = $32 million in salaries); and the use of other funds with "flexibility!"

We are about to lose massive numbers of enriching programs, increase class sizes and risk financial ruin because of the new board majority’s unwillingness to see the realities facing this district.

The furlough of workdays I proposed can save up to $80 million over two years and would preserve valuable programs and eliminate layoffs.

Drastic as it seems, the plan, if implemented this year, along with the examination of other savings, would preserve the board's ability to guide the district through the current minefield and keep class sizes at the present level.

I have yet to have seen any proposal that can offer the advantages and savings that the furlough plan would provide.
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