SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education gave its initial approval Friday to an agreement with teachers that cancels layoffs of nearly 1,500 educators and defers scheduled pay increases.
"The real winners in this are the students of San Diego," board President John Lee Evans said before the 4-1 vote in the rare Friday afternoon meeting.
"We're going to have reasonable class sizes next year in our San Diego Unified School District by calling back all of our teachers, our nurses and our counselors."
Board Vice President Scott Barnett cast the lone no vote.
"This board is rolling the dice and gambling completely on a tax measure," Barnett said, referring to an initiative to raise sales and income taxes backed by Gov. Jerry Brown that will appear on the November ballot.
The agreement would defer scheduled pay increases until funding becomes available and make employees take five unpaid furlough days. The number of furlough days could increase by 14 if the initiative is defeated, which prompted Barnett to vote against the agreement because that would begin summer vacation about one month earlier.
Barnett said that instead of the additional furlough days the district could bid out health care services; cut administration, transportation and other non-school programs; and reallocate some existing expenditures.
Evans disagreed, stating every board member opposed increasing furlough days and would do everything possible to avoid it.
"We have cut administration. We have cut transportation. This is not a reasonable proposal," Evans said.
The San Diego Education Association, the union representing the district's teachers, will begin the three-day ratification process Sunday. The agreement is scheduled for adoption at Thursday night's board meeting.
The board also discussed its budget for the next academic year, which without the deal with teachers would have a shortfall of around $120 million.
Even if the agreement is adopted and the tax measure is approved, the district could face an $80 million deficit for the 2013-14 academic year, said G. Wayne Oetken, interim chief financial officer.
Total planned district spending next year will be about $1.8 billion, compared to about $2 billion this year. The next academic year marks the fifth consecutive year of funding reductions, Oetken said.
Final budget approval is expected Thursday.
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