SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The financially strapped San Diego Unified School District wants a piece of the city's redevelopment pie before the pie disappears.
In a letter from the board of education to Mayor Jerry Sanders and the City Council, the district requested $64 million through an emergency amendment to a tax sharing agreement.
The school district faces a $120 million shortfall for next year's budget and announced last week it might have to cut the equivalent of 910 full-time jobs.
A tax-sharing agreement between the school district and the Centre City Development Corporation, or CCDC, provides San Diego's schools with about $5 million a year to pay for maintenance and facilities, said Bernie Rhinerson, a spokesman for the school district.
The emergency amendment would have CCDC advance expected tax revenues from 2017-20 to provide the school district with $64 million.
According to the letter, signed by school board President Richard Barrera, the extra funding should be added to a list of $4 billion in accelerated redevelopment projects to be considered by the City Council next week.
The city is trying to push through approval of the projects in case Gov. Jerry Brown is successful in his attempt to phase-out redevelopment agencies as part of his plan to reduce the state's $25 billion budget deficit.
"As a striking example, the project list contains more than $157 million for new parking garages in the CCDC project areas and not one additional dollar of funding for our schools!" Barrera said in the letter.
Rhinerson said the letter is a way of "asking the city to see what they can do."
"They'll probably say, `Oh no, we can't do this,"" he said. "But in desperate times, it's a choice between kids or other things."
Any extra funds the school district receives will go toward saving teacher jobs, Rhinerson said.
"It will go directly to classrooms to restore those terrible cuts the district is facing so those cuts don't have to be made," he said.
Redevelopment agencies, like the CCDC, are funded by a portion of the tax revenue generated by their projects. Most of that money then pays for future construction, but some is sent to the school district.
Brown claims redevelopment funds, which are meant to use tax revenues to create jobs through economic development projects, are being used by municipalities to cover budget shortfalls.
The city's general fund budget deficit is $57.6 million, not including a much greater deficit in its pension fund.
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