San Diego Unified unanimously passes budget for next school year - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego Unified unanimously passes budget for next school year

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – For the first time since 2008, the San Diego Unified School District school board unanimously passed its budget proposal for the upcoming academic year.

"I think this is a great day for our kids," said board president Kevin Beiser.

First-year Superintendent Cindy Marten says she's proud of her balanced budget.

"Let me be clear – this budget focuses on students first and makes a down payment on their future," she said.

Throughout the recession, the district threatened to lay off hundreds of teachers annually. But this $1.2 billion budget will have no layoffs and will reduce class sizes.

This year, students attending kindergarten through third grade experienced a ratio of 27 students per teacher. Next year, the ratio will drop to 25 students per teacher, with the goal of someday returning to a ratio of only 20 to 1.

"To make progress during a time of $106 million deficit, to reduce class sizes as a down payment, we wanted to show full support of that, to go from 27 to 25.5 (students), and we're interested in continuing lower and lower targets," Marten said.

Along with selling real estate, the district was able to make ends meet by offering 472 educators early retirement packages, a savings of nearly $8 million next year alone.

"We are taking people at the top of their pay scale off our sheets and replacing them with folks that are teaching outside the classroom," school board president Kevin Beiser said.

Beiser proposed the early retirement strategy. CBS News 8 asked him how schools plan to fill the void of losing hundreds of experienced teachers.

"Even though each school will have one or two or three retire, there are several other people that are experienced veterans with the toolbelts to the right things in the classrooms," Beiser said.

Along with reducing staffing at the central office, this budget even adds an extra day off instructional time for students. Children will now attend school 180 days a year.

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