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After Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced Wednesday that he would cut less funding from California schools than originally planned, San Diego Unified Superintendent Terry Grier cautioned employees that while the budget picture has brightened, layoffs are still possible.
Here’s the message Grier sent to San Diego Unified staff Wednesday night:
Message from the Superintendent – Budget Update
Message to: All Staff
From: Superintendent Terry Grier
Dear SDUSD Team,
Over the last several months, we have all worked together to oppose the devastating budget cuts that the Governor proposed in January. Our board and our community have worked hard to illustrate to our elected officials the impact of these cuts on our schools. Meanwhile, we have prepared for the worst case scenario.
Today, we received a sign that our efforts to fight these cuts have had some impact. This afternoon, Gov. Schwarzenegger announced his May Budget Revision. He said he would fully fund Proposition 98 next year and talked about a $1.8 Billion increase in funding over his January proposal.
I commend the Governor for prioritizing education and for this partial restoration of funding for our schools. However, I believe that it is a stretch to identify this additional funding as a full restoration of Proposition 98. In total, the Governor simply gives us a few dollars more than we are receiving this year. To put it in plain language, a $1.8 billion dollar restoration cannot make up for a $4 billion cut.
I’m also worried that the Governor’s proposal would shortchange us of the cost of living increases that we need. Many of you may have felt the impact of inflation on your household budgets. The impact on the district’s costs is similarly significant, especially for health care, utilities and the rising cost of fuel. But the Governor’s budget does not provide us with the dollars to pay for these increases. The Governor’s cuts to categorical programs will have a much larger impact on urban school districts such as San Diego. They will damage our priority programs for at-risk students and reduce the resources we provide to our highest need schools.
Today, I received many calls asking about rescinding layoff notices. We have to remember that the Governor’s May Revise is another step in a long budget battle. The legislature will take the Governor’s proposals and could spend months considering them before passing a final budget. This final budget will determine how far we can go on budget restoration. As a community, we all need to advocate for an early budget resolution that fully funds our schools.
Over the next days and weeks, we will analyze the impact of the May Revise. We hope that this analysis will produce some good news for our employees, but we cannot be sure. By any measure, the Governor’s proposal still represents a substantial cut to our district.
I appreciate your patience as we work through this, and ask that we all continue to fight for the full funding that our schools deserve.
Dr. Terry Grier, Ed.D