Budget Battle: SD Unified school board faces budget cuts - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Budget Battle: SD Unified school board faces budget cuts

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday declared that the district may not be able to meet its financial obligations for the current fiscal year and two subsequent years, and directed staff to come up with solutions to balance next year's budget.

The budget shortfall was estimated at almost $117 million for the 2017- 18 school year, and about $50 million the following year, according to a report that was delivered to the Board.

"We are skating on thin ice," Patricia Cook district interim chief financial officer told the board. "It's a serious situation that we must address."

The projection was partly based on an ongoing decline in enrollment at most grade levels.

Charter schools have gained almost 5,000 students since 2012-13, the report said. The projection was also influenced by the pay raises to teachers and other employees that were granted by the board.

"We have balanced our budget every year," Trustee John Lee Evans said. "We're required to issue a preliminary budget plan in December, when the actual budget is not approved until June when we do not even know exactly how much revenues we are going to receive."

School districts are required by the state to report on their financial conditions for the current and subsequent two fiscal years. They list their status as "positive" if they expect to meet their financial obligations, "qualified" if they're uncertain and "negative" if they will not be able to pay their bills.

District staff recommended issuing a "qualified" status, which was approved by the board.

"We're being asked to go through an exercise before we have all the information," board President Michael McQuary said while presiding over his last meeting of his term as president. "We need to be conservative as this district has been and we want to be prepared."

The trustees unanimously selected Richard Barrera as board president and voted 3-2 for Kevin Beiser as the board's vice president.

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