San Ysidro School Budget Gamble Goes Bust

San Ysidro School District getting outside help

The San Ysidro School District is running out of money, so San Diego County is making a rare move, and stepping in to help advise.

"This is an intervention," says Lora Duzyk with the County Office of Education. "And we're hopeful that we can all work together to find a solution because ultimately, we have to protect the kids."

Duzyk says districts all over the California are getting about 20 percent less state money than five years ago. Many districts have used pay cuts and furlough days to get by, but San Ysidro did something different: It gambled things would get better.

"Other districts were making furlough days and cuts to their teaching staff. We didn't." explains San Ysidro School Board President Jason Wells. "Trying to protect them, hoping things would get better. Well, they didn't get better."

The district is roughly $4 million short for the 2013-2014 budget. So, they need to find a way to cut 13 percent from that budget and 18 percent for each of the following two years. 

If they can't get it done, the district faces what's being called the worst case scenario.

"The worst case scenario is state takeover," says Duzyk. "In order to pay their bills they would have to get a state loan, and when you get a state loan, that means the state takes over your district."

Wells says those state loans can come with very high interest rates. So, it's something no one wants to see happen. The problem is where to make the cuts and the numbers point to one very likely option.

"We have to make a 13 percent cut on our expenses," says Wells. "Ninety percent of our expenses are salary and benefits."

Wells and Duzyk say the next step, and likely most critical step, will be to negotiate with the teacher's union. The issue will be discussed at Thursday night's school board meeting, which is open to the public.

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