San Diego

Sweetwater Union High School District Proposes Fix to $30M Budget Shortfall

Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) officials met Monday to try to figure out how they will cut nearly $30 million from this school year’s budget after recently realizing an accounting mistake led to an overestimate of available funding.

SUHSD did not a make anyone available for an on-camera interview with NBC 7, but a district official told NBC 7 that "Not a whole lot is going to be impacted,” by a revised budget presented to the Board of Trustees at Monday’s meeting.

The revised budget shows summer school may be reduced. District spokesperson Manny Rubio said it was expanded last year.

There is also a potential two-day cut to paid training days for teachers and some classified employees, like teacher assistants and counselors who work with careers, academics, college and social and emotional needs of students.

“No one is happy about giving up pay, no one is happy about giving up training. However, what this gives us is an opportunity to do is to preserve our face time with our students and that is the most critical thing for us,” Caryn Hoffman of the Sweetwater Counseling and Guidance Association said. “If giving up some of the extra training helps the district balance the budget at this time, we are willing to support that.”

Rubio said those “professional development” days were increased by three last year.

The president of the teacher’s union told NBC 7 that the union isn’t happy about the budget shortfall or the potential cuts, but says teachers are willing to work with the district.

“We're not happy with what’s happened but we realize what’s happened and we’re willing to work with the district to straighten this out,” Teachers’ Union President Jean Chavira said.

Management employees have also agreed to take furlough days, the district said. The higher up the ladder, the more furlough days. Another strategy is pulling nearly $5 million in funding for adult and special education programs that come from the general fund.

Cuts could also come by way of reduced transportation for athletes to games and a decrease in district utility usage. It could also forego updating textbooks.

The district posted a letter on its website Monday assuring parents that it had achieved a balanced operating budget.

“Our team began to reconstruct our 2018-19 budget and rebuild it in a way that would meet the identified shortfalls and do so in a way that is solid, sound, and compassionate to all stakeholders,” the letter read in part.

The district said in the letter that it would save money by “freezing unfilled positions, reduction in the work year for all Management, and program funding shifts from General Fund budgets to restricted budgets such as Title I and Title IV.”

The district has made its revised budget presentation available to the public. Click here to read it.

“Throughout this budget challenge, we believe that we have remained pragmatic, honest, and transparent in our efforts. This process has also enabled us to implement new practices and protocols that will help prevent this situation in the future,” the letter said.

The revised budget will go before the San Diego County Office of Education for review which has until Nov. 8 to approve or reject it.

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