San Diego

Sweetwater High School District, Labor Unions Reach Tentative Agreement to Alleviate $30M Debt

The Sweetwater Union High School District made cuts to fill a $30 million budget gap Thursday thanks to labor unions willing to work with the district to avoid sweeping administration changes.

The County Office of Education, which is in charge of making sure school districts can pay their bills, approved the district’s revised budget that was submitted last month.

The approval comes with conditions, including sending a financial adviser to help the district.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” said south bay resident Gary Steele. “The only reason we are in this spot right now is it’s not been managed well to begin with. So that would be a logical approach.”

The district also wants more information about how big the financial hole really is and what really needs to be done to fill

The changes include offering eligible teachers, counselors, school bus drivers, custodians, maintenance workers and management incentives to retire early. It also includes two work furlough days for employees.

NBC 7 asked the president of the teachers union, Gene Chavera, why six unions are agreeing to take cuts even though they have existing contracts.

“We felt not only teachers but all five other unions that it was in our best interest to work with the district to maintain the present administration we have as opposed to being taken over the by County Office of Education or the state,” Chavera said.

Teacher Anna Rosa Munoz said the school learning environment is going to be affected and that students will feel the brunt of it.

In an email, the district said it is grateful to all the labor unions who have been working to find budgetary solutions

The tentative agreements, which include furlough days and early retirement incentives, still have to be officially approved by union members.

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