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School board member John de Beck has announced a plan to save roughly $40 million for San Diego Unified schools without layoffs, school closures or other debated cuts: Shutting down schools for nine days and furloughing all employees. He said it would depend on Superintendent Terry Grier declaring a fiscal emergency in the district, which is estimated to face a $50 million shortfall this school year.

The plan echoes a proposal by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to trim the school year by five days for savings, which has been criticized by educators as detrimental to the neediest students in the system.

De Beck estimates that closure could save the district $4.4 million daily, or roughly $40 million for nine days. He also wants the school board to take a two-month pay cut — a token gesture because the school board is paid very little. (School board member Shelia Jackson showed me her monthly pay stub of $1,312 last July.)

Parents will not like snipping weeks off the school year, de Beck said. “I don’t like it either, but this is a fiscal emergency,” He added. “And I don’t like any of my choices.”

EMILY ALPERT

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