Sweetwater Union High School District Budget Shortfall Not as Severe as First Thought

The Sweetwater Union High School District updated its financial situation Monday telling NBC 7 that because of early retirement offers, the district's budget shortfall improved from $10.5 million to $4.9 million for this school year. That shortfall is 1 percent of the school's budget for that year. 

For 2019-2020, the district said it has reduced the projected deficit from $42.4 million to $22.5 million which is 4.5 percent of the district's budget.

Superintendent Dr. Karen Janney was expected to present the district's plan to achieve fiscal solvency and the district's CFO Dr. Jenny Salkeid was expected to report on the second interim budget. 

When Janney addressed the local media, she would not respond to questions on camera regarding the financial situation facing the district. 

The San Diego County Office of Education responded to NBC 7's request for comment saying, "We're still reviewing everything so can't comment specifically at this point, but in general, what I can say is, we're closely reviewing the documentation the district provided and look forward to working with Sweetwater to help the district resolve its financial issues."

In September, the district was on track to be $30 million in debt by the end of the 2018-2019 school year.

A buyout was offered in December and 94 teachers accepted the offer. At least another 50 this semester had also agreed to retire early. 

The district said the retirement offers were a success because officials were able to strategically implement the changes.

During a closed session one week ago, school board members voted to hand out pink slips to 87 management employees.

The district expects student enrollment to decline for the next two years. 

There are more than 4,000 employees in the district with 2,000 of those teachers.

The district serves an estimated 40,000 students in 28 schools including 11 middle schools, 13 high schools and four alternative education sites.

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