D-Day for San Diego's Schools

It's Decision Day for San Diego Unified Schools as board members decide what will stay and what will go

Parents, teachers, community leaders and even former students argued for various programs Tuesday as the San Diego Unified School District considers what programs will be cut to balance its budget.

Instead of having to cut an additional $137 million, board members need to find $63 million in cuts. They attribute that to more state revenue than expected, fewer expenditures and money saved from 2008 to 2009 school year in the form of hiring freezes, cost cutting at schools and the district's central office.

The board voted Tuesday to cut Gate Program staff which means eliminating one school psychologist position, eliminate ninth grade class size reduction which will return class sizes to traditional levels, eliminate K-2 class size reduction at 29 schools will return class size to traditional levels, eliminate 8 world language teachers at Sunset View and Jereabek Elementary School, eliminate Grant School K-8 magnet funds and increase school lunches by 25 cents.

Some proposed cuts that are scheduled for consideration later in Tuesday's agenda include cutting athletics and consolidating the smaller schools that make up Kearny High School which could be the closure of the Digital Media Design (DMD) and the School of International Business. Both of those issues brought a number of teachers and parents to the meeting Tuesday morning who tried to persuade board members to find the money elsewhere.

“I think you are very wise to consider all of the things that you could cut even consolidating Kearny,” said Robert Meza-Ehlert who teaches ninth grade at DMD. “But it would be extremely foolish to forward with that choice, please keep the small schools as they are at Kearny high school.”

“Sports give many students a reason to attend school and stay in school,” said Heidi Vogel, who described herself as a proud parent of a Patrick Henry scholar athlete. “I’ve never had to worry about where he was or what he’s doing. “

“School teams teach children lessons in life,” said the assistant softball coach at Patrick Henry HS. "Lessons such as hard work and determination, team work and perseverance, how to deal with success as well as how to deal with failure.”

Board President Shelia Jackson welcomes people to give input as to how to fill the budget deficit. "Our primary focus, of course, is on the core curriculum, making sure it is intact," she said.

Board member John DeBeck said the three pro union board members have been getting input, but have refused to make the tough choices to balance the budget.  He fears the "board is going down the path to bankruptcy."

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