San Diego Unified schools are funded through the current school year. All of the discussions about future budget solutions relate to the 2017-18 school year. The Trustees who serve on the Board of Education have raised important issues regarding the 2017-18 budget update. The following are responses from the district to the Board and the public we serve.

Board Passes Budget, June 27, 2017

Tonight, the Board of Education voted to approve the proposed budget for the 2017-18 school year. This budget maintains our commitment to excellence and equity, while putting the District on firm financial ground for the future.

Click for the 2017-2018 LCAP Infographic

This budget reinforces our commitment to protecting core programs, small class sizes, and diverse learning opportunities for all students.

Key components of the approved 2017-18 budget include: 
  • Guaranteeing access to the Visual and Performing Arts, STEAM, Dual Language and International Baccalaureate programs. 
  • Restoration of elementary school prep time teachers and several VAPA positions. All elementary schools will continue to receive an instrumental music program. 
  • Closing the achievement gap through increased supports for English Language Learners, and a focus on early literacy. This includes a focus to have all students reading at grade level by third grade. 
  • Expanding health, wellness, physical education and nutrition initiatives to help each child grow as a complete individual. Several of the prep time teachers who have been restored are also physical education teachers. 
  • Expanding college course offerings for all students and expand partnerships with innovative private sector leaders like Illumina, Raytheon and Qualcomm.
With this budget now approved, concerns over cutting music education have been eliminated, and our $124 million deficit will be cut to $11.6 million.

Click to see the KUSI News report

The passing of this budget also is a huge step toward eliminating a long-standing structural deficit for good. The San Diego County Office of Education recognized that throughout the budget planning process,

"the board has been actively researching and implementing strategies to effectively reduce its structural deficit. While there are still out-year deficits, they have made significant progress in this regard and are commended for their diligence in protecting the district’s fiscal solvency and their resolve to certify as positive in the coming year.”

Budget Update, May 17, 2017

Last night, the Board of Education voted 5-0 to approve a staff recommendation to move forward with the Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS) Supplementary Early Retirement Plan (SERP) for 600 of the district’s non-teaching employees. This follows acceptance of the SERP from 528 teachers on May 11, and results in 100% acceptance from the 1,128 employees who registered to participate in the early retirement program. The SERP was offered to eligible district employees to mitigate the effect of the layoffs for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The program is cost neutral and is not a budget solution.

Budget Update, May 15, 2017

More than 1,000 Workers Join San Diego Unified 2017 Class of Retirees
Retirements further reduce number of layoffs required to close deficit

San Diego Unified announced 1,128 employees have registered to participate in an early retirement program, key to modernizing the workforce and limiting the number of layoffs required by a shrinking district budget. Previously, on May 11, the Board of Education approved the early retirement program for 528 teachers. The retirement program for the other 600 employees faces a board vote at the next regular meeting, Tuesday, May 16.

The Public Agency Retirement Services (PARS) Supplementary Early Retirement Plan (SERP) was offered to eligible district employees to mitigate the effect of the layoffs for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The SERP is not a 2017-18 budget solution. Instead, program costs will be offset by leaving non-teaching positions open.

Based on the terms under which it was negotiated with worker representatives and presented to the Board of Education in February, the early retirement program is required to be revenue-neutral. District-wide – and in order to fund the SERP, additional positions being vacated by retirees will remain open, with the exception of those critical for student learning and safety.

Reducing the number of layoffs remains an important objective for the district, both to minimize the impact on workers and their families and, also, to maintain the largest number of employees committed to the success of San Diego students, as possible.

The SERP program offered to teachers this year resulted in a successful 50% reduction in the number of teachers receiving pink slips. Following approval of that early retirement program last week, the amount of teacher layoffs was reduced from 952 to 467.

The final number of non-teacher layoffs, which may be rescinded due to the new SERP proposal, is still under review.

The district is required by law to pass a balanced budget by June 30, 2017.

Budget Update, May 12, 2017

Last night, the Board of Education took another important step towards ensuring the fiscal stability of San Diego Unified for the future. Part of our commitment to provide quality schools in every neighborhood means making sure those schools are adequately funded and staffed with the best educators in the state. The current budget will help San Diego Unified keep that commitment.

The series of measures approved by the board last night included a work year reduction for certain types of employees, final layoff notices for approximately 100 teachers and additional layoff notices for approximately 60 bus drivers. None of the changes will result in a shorter school year for children or larger class size limits. The district has also pledged to continue providing the same high level of instruction to students next year that has produced the highest graduation rates of any big city school system in the state of California.

The budget measures passed by the Board were necessary to reduce a $124.4 million budget deficit in the coming fiscal year. Closing the $124.4 million deficit is required by law, as the district cannot pass a budget that is out of balance. The San Diego County Office of Education has confirmed the size of the district’s budget deficit and called for the district to undertake immediate budget solutions.

The $124.4 million deficit this year is the result of a variety of factors, the most important of which is the fact the state of California continues to rank near the bottom in the nation in terms of financial support for its schools.

Governor Brown and our entire delegation of San Diego legislators are committed to increased support for education, but the Governor has also warned a new recession could be on the horizon. For that reason, the Governor chose to essentially leave education spending flat for the coming year, increasing funding in one category but reducing it in others. A more complete analysis is available here.

The fiscal challenges faced by San Diego Unified are not new. The district has been facing a structural deficit of more than $60 million for each of the last 5 years. This chart shows how, in each of those years, the district was able to close the gap with one time budget solutions, for example, real estate sales.

Unfortunately, the district is out of one time solutions, and must now take strong action. The city’s leading editorial board, the Union Tribune, has agreed these cuts are necessary.

The district will continue working to minimize the impact of these budget solutions on the communities we serve. From the start, the district committed to make the largest cuts at the Central Office, away from schools, and that promise has been kept. Some 355 positions and more than $60 million have been cut from the Central Office. Additionally, the Board and Superintendent have all volunteered to reduce their pay to help balance the budget.

In partnership with our professional educators, the district offered teachers a supplemental early retirement package, or SERP. The purpose of the SERP was to minimize the impact of layoffs on teachers, and it has been very successful in that. As a result of early retirements, the Board was able to vote last night to cut by half the teacher layoffs originally proposed.

The Board also asked the Superintendent and staff to continue working to reduce the number of layoffs necessary, while maintaining the fiscal restraint necessary to pass a balanced budget by June 30, 2017.

Budget Update, April 26, 2017

Today, San Diego Unified approached SDEA about discussions to restore the elementary school preparation time teaching program for the coming school year. There has been significant media attention to the prep time teaching program, as some students receive their arts and physical education instruction from these prep time teachers. The district has been clear from the start of the budgeting process that all students will continue to receive age-appropriate arts and physical education next year – regardless of any changes negotiated to the prep time program.

The prep time program will continue for 17-18 school year while negotiations with SDEA continue over structural changes for future years. The final shape and size of the program will be adapted to meet student needs and enrollment at participating schools.

The district has also concluded its preliminary analysis of retirement applications received from teachers by the April 21 deadline. Approximately 527 SDEA union members applied for retirement – about 14 percent above independent estimates. The district typically receives about 150 retirement notices each school year.

The higher-than-expected number of retirements could significantly reduce the final number of layoffs required to close the budget deficit this year. However, that analysis is not expected to be completed before the next scheduled board meeting on May 11.

Budget Update, April 25, 2017

Following receipt of a last-minute bargaining proposal by unions representing the district’s classified employees, the Board of Education voted tonight to delay consideration of additional layoffs until a special meeting on May 11, 2017. Board Members and the Superintendent expressed the hope additional agreements achieved at the bargaining table will make additional layoffs unnecessary.

Budget Update, April 21, 2017

San Diego Unified leaders continue working to put the district on firm financial ground for the future.

Currently, the district faces a $124.4 million deficit in the operating budget for the 17-18 fiscal year. As part of this work, the district is planning to bring forward further budget solutions at the April 25 Board of Education meeting. These solutions are replacement cuts -- replacing several solutions proposed in February. Neither the size of the deficit, nor the amount of budget solutions proposed by the district has changed since the second interim budget approved on March 14, 2017.

As Superintendent Marten pledged at the beginning of this budget process, none of the solutions being proposed will raise maximum class sizes and changes are being kept as far away from the classroom as possible. Pending Board approval of this next round of budget solutions, layoff notices will go out to approximately 190 additional employees (keeping within the required notification deadlines) based on the elimination of approximately 175 FTE positions in the budget.

The final number of layoffs will greatly depend on the number of staff that chooses to retire. The district has worked with the employee unions to establish certain incentives for early retirement. So far, the number of teachers who have applied for retirement is 300 percent higher than the number of retirements received in average years. In rough terms, this should reduce the number of layoffs, although the results of this program will not likely be known until May.

Additionally, the district continues to negotiate with the employee unions, as we seek common solutions to put our schools on solid financial ground for the future. The next scheduled negotiations will take place on April 27, 2017.

The San Diego Unified School District is facing a budget deficit due to a combination of factors, including the increase in pension and healthcare costs, and an increasingly competitive labor market. These contributors are not excuses, they are facts. We are ready, willing and able to face these facts, working with the entire community to find creative solutions that will put the District in solid financial footing to sustain our long-term fiscal stability.

We are determined to stay focused on what’s working. Our schools have been very successful in a broad range of achievement areas, and we will keep improving. Students in San Diego Unified have achieved record high graduation and attendance rates, record low dropout, suspension and expulsion rates, and today we rank at or near the top of large California districts in reading and math proficiency. The budget solutions we put forward are designed to help us continue this tradition of excellence.

We will continue to generate these strong results by keeping class sizes small; none of the changes in our budget proposals will increase core class sizes. Our class size limits will remain among the smallest in the state.

Additionally, we are still moving forward with hundreds of school renovation and upgrade projects across the city. This year alone, several of our schools will be opening the doors to brand-new classrooms, state-of-the-art instructional buildings, and athletic facilities.

We will continue to look at all options, including early retirement and other solutions, to responsibly meet our fiscal constraints. Parents and taxpayers across our city should understand that we truly appreciate their support in these difficult times. We will not allow budget constraints to deny our students the excellent education they deserve.

Finally, we are also encouraging the Governor and Legislature to fully fund public education and see that our children are equipped with the resources to learn and succeed. Unfortunately, California ranks 46th in the nation in per-pupil spending, despite our reputation as a leader in technology, equality, and innovation. California can, and must, do better for our kids.