SAN DIEGO (CNS) - With budget deficits looming years into the future, a San Diego Unified School District trustee called Thursday on employees to give up promised upcoming pay raises.
In exchange, employee layoffs would be less likely in the years ahead, Board of Education member Scott Barnett said.
The district has already sent layoff notices to hundreds of teachers and staff, effective at the end of the school year.
Barnett said the district asked all of its employee unions to renegotiate their contracts.
"Sadly, except for the school police association, they said `no, we don't even want to talk to you about it,"' Barnett said. "I don't understand why the leaders who represent the employees won't even talk to us."
Officials with the San Diego Education Association, which represents teachers, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
The school board is struggling to close a budget gap that could still reach $50 million in the next academic year, depending on how fiscal politics play out at the state level, according to district figures.
The worst-case scenario shortfall climbs to $95 million in the following year, and $128 million the year after. Even in the best-case scenario, the district faces a $100 million deficit in the 2013-14 school year.
Meanwhile, the SDUSD is liable for automatic pay increases totaling $12.5 million next year and $15 million in 2012-13, and negotiated salary hikes of an additional $22 million in 2012-13.
The automatic pay raises are based on criteria such as worker longevity. Among the negotiated increases was last year's contract with the SDEA that promises a 2 percent raise effective July 1, 2012, a second 2 percent wage increase due Jan. 1, 2013, and a 3 percent salary bump on June 30, 2013, the day the contract expires.
The teachers got the future pay raises in exchange for immediate unpaid furlough days and higher health care premiums.
Barnett said the school board counted on an improving economy and an ultimately failed tax measure on property to offset the pay hikes. He was not a trustee when the deal was reached.
Barnett told reporters that it would shock the public to know the district is handing out $17 million in automatic pay increases in the current fiscal year while at the same time preparing to lay off employees.
"I believe (the workers) deserve the raises, but we can't afford it -- it's that simple," Barnett said.
He said the impact of the layoffs is that class sizes will be increased in September, and there will be significantly fewer counselors, nurses and bus drivers.
A 27-year-old man suffered fatal injuries as the result of a "punching game'' inside of a bar Saturday morning in the Gaslamp
neighborhood of San Diego.
SANDAG began removing call boxes along urban highways throughout the San Diego region this month and will continue to do so through June, reflecting a decrease in call volume due to the increase in cell phone ownership.
Authorities today announced that police have arrested a suspect in connection with Friday's sexual assault on the campus of San Diego Mesa College. The name of the suspect was not immediately released.
Showers will be mostly light Saturday morning, decreasing into early Saturday afternoon. Another round of showers expected to push through late afternoon ending late Saturday night.
Police Chief David Nisleit Friday strongly disavowed what he described as an unofficial, "never authorized" departmental program that rewarded officers for making narcotics arrests.
On Friday, San Diego Police announced their search for a suspect involved in a robbery off the San Diego State University campus.
A court-appointed receiver has taken control of a Pacific Beach "hoarder house" that has accumulated trash, created unsafe conditions for children and harbored vermin in recent years, the San Diego City Attorney's Office announced Friday.
The owners of Hauser's Patio reached out to News 8 Friday morning asking to be put in contact with the couple who had their furniture stolen from their patio in Pacific Beach this week.