A controversial merger of a private school and a public elementary cost the school district roughly $500,000 in new salaries and generated only $300,000 in attendance funds, according to budget estimates supplied by San Diego Unified School District.

To break even, the Harborside program at Washington Elementary would have to boost its enrollment by 70 percent, adding at least 37 students in grades K through 6 without adding more teachers, according to a voiceofsandiego.org analysis. That’s at least six students per class, at the program’s current size.

“The bottom line on this. … The school district’s budget was negatively impacted by the movement of the Harborside program into Washington,” school board member John de Beck said.

Additional costs are likely as the school strives to extend art, dance, theater and gym classes to students outside the Harborside program. Parents of Washington students complained that their children didn’t get the same opportunities outside of class.

Area Superintendent Delfino Aleman, who helped arrange the merger, noted that no such opportunities were available before Harborside was brought into the school. According to a memo provided by Aleman to the school board, Washington fielded only one part-time gym teacher and a volunteer art teacher during school year 2006-2007.

To extend the classes, the school is raising funds through a new foundation. But if the program is to rival Harborside’s, the cost overruns will likely mirror it, too.

“It’s worth the investment,” said Mitz Lee, another school board member. “There will be no segregation.”


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