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.

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.

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.