I’m headed to another grueling meeting at San Diego Unified today about the budget crisis. Check back for lots of details later as the school board hashes out what to cut and what to spare, but here are some initial numbers and notes from the slew of reports that will be put before the school board:

  • The total deficit for next year is now estimated at $146 million. I’m looking at the numbers and I still don’t comprehend it. That is twice as much as what was estimated just a week ago, when finance staffers were still calculating what San Diego Unified would ultimately get from the state. That number includes the state budget cuts, increased costs for employee salaries and benefits, utility increases, and the price of fully funding allocations for school sites. Ouch.
  • The question of whether to close small schools is likely to come up. Superintendent Terry Grier is recommending closing five elementary schools with low enrollment and later reopening them as new middle or high school programs or offices for special education and human resources staffers. This is not a shocker: Grier has floated this idea in the past, arguing that small high schools would reel in teenagers who would otherwise drop out, boosting graduation rates and bringing more revenue into the school district. Will the school board agree? I’ll keep you posted.
EMILY ALPERT

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