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Scott Barnett – No Friend to San Diego Teachers

May 28, 2011

Photo detailWith the budget for San Diego Unified Schools in flux and disarray because of the clear lack of funding guidance from Sacramento we have new proposals springing up from all directions about what to do.  Maureen Magee over at the Union Tribune does a pretty good job of explaining it in a non-bias fashion in this article.

As the San DiegoUnified School District struggles to get it’s fiscal house in order, its call to action continues to change drastically and almost daily — depending on who’s doing the talking.

More than 750 educators and 1,500 nonteaching employees are set to lose their jobs once schools shut down for the summer, under cost-cutting measures approved to close a projected $114 million deficit to the district’s $1.04 billion operatingbudget next year.

But since Gov. Jerry Brown’s released his revised state budgetproposal May 16, one that is kinder than anticipated to public education due to an unanticipated boost in revenue, San Diego school boardmembers are growing increasingly divided over how to address the district’s financial problems.

Some trustees want to cancel teacher layoff notices as quickly as possible. Anxious that Brown’s plan is contingent on some tax extensions, the superintendent and other trustees wants to keep personnel reductions in the budget for the time being.

Trustee Scott Barnett on Thursday called for the district to suspend a series of pay raises that teachers and others are scheduled to receive over the next three years. A payroll freeze would save the district tens of millions of dollars that he said could be used cancel layoff notices.

What Scott Barnett doesn’t mention is what the article states later, namely, that SDUSD have already taken pay cuts and furlough days and have contributed more to their health insurance plans.  Trust me, as a teachers with SDUSD schools I can tell you that when you check other district’s pay levels for certificated teachers, we are on the very low end.

“Scott Barnett is distorting the truth about the district’s budget in order to create a sense of panic,” said Bill Freeman, president of the teachers union. “We are willing to do our part to share the district’s financial burden — and we have. The more money they get, the deeper the concessions they demand.”

What I don’t understand is this:  Why is there no clear accounting of how much money the district has NOW?  Remember the dispute over the $66 million that SDEA said the district had, then the district denied having it?  What is the real story?  Is the district really allowed to hide reserves?  Sunlight is the best disinfectant, that is what we need a dose of here.

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