After months of arguing that deep cuts imposed by the state compelled San Diego Unified to lay off nearly 1,000 educators, the school board changed course Tuesday night and reinstated nearly 300 teachers, counselors and librarians who were slated for layoffs, heeding the advice of its superintendent.

You probably have the same question I did: What changed?

Board President Katherine Nakamura said that budget predictions from Sacramento are brightening, allowing the district some leeway to restore jobs. Still, she said, relaxing the layoffs is a risk. Superintendent Terry Grier said if state funding for schools diminishes unexpectedly, “we have a real problem.”

The reinstatements were “something of an educated guess, as to what was coming out of Sacramento,” Nakamura said. “It’s an educated guess that things are headed in the right direction.”

Less than 24 hours after San Diego Unified restored the employees, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger revealed a new spending plan that would provide $1.8 billion more to schools statewide than was proposed in January, according to spokeswoman Lisa Page.

The January proposal would have left schools’ budgets next year with $1.1 billion less than they had this year. So, the governor’s new proposal actually represents an increase in funding over the current year’s budget.

However, Proposition 98 requires minimum funding levels for schools each year; the governor suspended the proposition earlier this year. If the rule were in place, schools would’ve been slated to receive $4 billion more than what was laid out in the January proposal.

It’s good news, said school district spokesman Jack Brandais, but it’s not ideal.

“The rumor mill is going around and people are jumping to conclusions that all the layoffs will be rescinded,” Brandais said. “It certainly doesn’t look like that. It’s better, but it’s not going to give us the funding level that we have in this current year.”


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