SDUSD budget sets reopening
(June 30) The San Diego Unified Board of Education unanimously approved a balanced budget for the upcoming school year. No significant layoffs or staff adjustments were required to balance the district budget this year. Highlights of the approved measure include a $45 million fund for COVID-19 emergency expenditures. District leaders said those funds will pave the way for reopening schools on schedule on Aug. 31, including options for on-campus and online learning.
“The unanimous vote this evening by the Board of Education reflects our collective confidence that we can open schools in a timely manner, on schedule, on Aug. 31, with outstanding options for students who want to be on campus, as well as those who wish to learn from home,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “The COVID-19 crisis is the biggest adaptive challenge to public education of our lifetimes, and we are ready to meet the challenge.”
Superintendent Marten introduced the budget item by noting the numbers have improved since May when Gov. Gavin Newsom released his revised state budget. Working with the governor and the entire San Diego legislative delegation, school leaders successfully advocated for changes in the state budget, including:
- Undoing a 10 percent cut to Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) estimated at about $100 million as proposed in the 2020-21 May Revise and instead utilizing deferrals and federal advocacy to mitigate cuts;
- Securing learning loss funds to cover COVID-19 costs and to support reopening of schools, which totaled $91.8 million for San Diego Unified;
- Adopting a pension buydown of employer contribution rates for 2020-21 and 2021-22, and a CalSTRS pension rate freeze for 2020-21, which amounts to an estimated savings of $17 million for San Diego Unified in the next school year;
- Advocating for special education funding based on the moderate-to-severe disability of students, which resulted in the allocation of $100 million for the low-incidence pool add-on that provides $2.4 million for San Diego Unified.
Members of the Board of Education also emphasized the need for continued advocacy at the federal level. They have called for the U.S. Senate to follow the House of Representatives in passing the HEROES Act, which provides an additional $58 billion to schools nationwide.