The San Diego Unified deficit, once believed to be around $63 million, then estimated at $147 million, has ballooned to more than $180 million after the failure of state propositions at the ballot box and new budget revisions announced by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The district is now considering a raft of options, including eliminating arts programs, slashing salaries or using up federal stimulus money in one year that was meant for two years. This, of course, would leave district officials scrambling for more money next year. Many of the proposed cuts must be negotiated with the teachers union, but no agreements have been reached on contentious options such as furloughing teachers, freezing salaries, or upping class sizes to eliminate teaching jobs.
The district estimates that it will get a total of $52 million in stimulus money — $26 million each year. This is the first time that the question of whether to use all the stimulus money at once or to spread it over two years has cropped up in budget discussions in San Diego Unified. It has already become an explosive issue in Los Angeles Unified.