San Diego Unified staffers laid out roughly $96 million in potential school cuts today, describing specific plans to pare tens of millions of dollars in the wake of state budget problems. School board members will choose among the menu of cuts offered, depending on how the size of the shortfall they ultimately face. For San Diego Unified, the predicted gap is $80 million.

Here’s a sampling of the potential cuts in San Diego Unified, with links to our past coverage of related services in the schools. They’re not necessarily the biggest cuts, and they’re certainly not the only cuts — but I think they give a good sense of what’s at stake.

  • Six school police officers could lose their jobs, taking eyes off middle and high schools at lunchtime and sports events. A police administrator could also be cut. Dollar value: $1.1 million.
  • Decentralizing summer school would reduce overhead, but put the burden on individual school principals to provide summer programs. Such programs are especially important in light of the district’s new 8th grade retention policy, which now requires more students to go to summer school to remediate poor grades. Dollar value: $326,399. An alternate plan would eliminate summer school for grades 1 through 6, to keep programs for at-risk eighth graders intact. Dollar value: $1.5 million.
  • Oversight of the district’s 35 charter schools could decline with the loss of one staffer in the district’s Office of School Choice. Dollar value: $133,229.
  • Roll back all employee salaries 1 percent. (To do this, the school district would need to do some bargaining with employee unions.) Dollar value: $9 million.
  • Eliminate some instrumental music teachers who visit multiple schools. A grant could replace the funding, staffers hope. Dollar value: $347,775.
  • Close a special center where truant kids are assessed after being found on the streets, to figure out and solve why they’re not in school. Dollar value: $500,000.
  • Eleven nurses could be eliminated, pushing responsibility for insulin shots and medication onto other office staff. Dollar value: $900,000.
  • To manage small schools more efficiently, district staffers proposed either assigning central office program managers to serve as principals as elementary schools with 300 students or fewer, or having one principal split two small schools. Dollar value for either plan: $1.1 million.
  • Reduce 150 classroom aides who work with special education students. The aides, known as paraeducators, play a key role in making ordinary classes accessible for disabled kids. Dollar value: $6.6 million.
  • Cut busing costs by putting all schools on the same schedule, consolidating school bus routes. Dollar value: $2.9 million.
  • Eliminate preparation time for elementary school teachers — a once-weekly block of time when teachers can plan lessons and collaborate. Joint planning time has been key to school success at Johnson and Baker elementary schools, according to principals. Dollar value: $12.4 million normally paid to teachers who fill in for classroom teachers during their planning time. Classroom teachers will also shoulder the subjects that prep time teachers previously taught, such as physical education, music or technology.
  • Reduce early childhood programs, providing spots for 140 fewer preschoolers. Dollar value: $1.1 million.

Other proposals include eliminating district cell phones ($200,000), closing central offices during spring break ($1.4 million), cutting more than 50 vice principals ($5.6 million), laying off some school counselors ($1.2 million) and librarians ($1.1 million), and increasing class sizes in gifted student seminars (between $564,440 and $1 million, depending on how large classes get).

Trustees are weighing cuts based primarily on how many students are impacted, and are also eyeing whether the services impact academic programs and if they’re linked to federal and state test results.

The school board took no action today on the proposed cuts today.

EMILY ALPERT

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