The Sweetwater Union High School District is having financial problems -- again.
The San Diego County Office of Education “disapproved” the district’s budget for the year 2019-2020. According to a letter the county sent to the district, “We have serious concerns that the District’s adopted budget submission does not accurately reflect the current financial status.”
This is the second year in a row the County has not approved Sweetwater’s budget. Last year the district was $30 million in debt and had to make drastic budget cuts.
Deputy County Superintendent Mike Simonson said the district has made progress, but said more is needed. According to the county’s analysis of the district’s already adopted budget, Sweetwater is $15 million to $20 million dollars in debt. In its letter, the county points out cash flow problems and understated expenditures as the larger issues.
“A lot of information in that letter, we’re not sure where the figures are coming from,” said district spokesperson Manny Rubio. “We actually don’t agree with some of the figures in there. So, there’s finer points we’re working on to address, and we will be addressing them in the coming days and weeks.”
The district does acknowledge there is a deficit of $11 million. It hopes to make that up by negotiating with employees to add furlough days, but the other $7 million will come from places “to be determined,” according to its budget.
Rubio said, “We’re very comfortable that the work we’ve put out is accurate, we’re very comfortable the work we’ve put out there is substantial.”
Simonson says the district did not account for the $11 million hole when it submitted its “balanced budget,” and said the district does not have the luxury of “hoping away” its budget problems.
“Let’s reflect what the current reality is, and if things get better or worse, we can adjust accordingly,” he said.