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Just how bad is the budget crunch for schools? What does it look like at your local school? I asked for your examples and you delivered. Some are problems that got fixed. Some involve other issues besides the budget. But they all show how budget cuts have shaken out:

  • Clairemont High clamped down on copying paper for teachers earlier this year, setting a limit on how many papers they could print. Saving a tree might sound like a good idea.

    But Ira Henderson, the teachers union representative at Clairemont, said teachers were allowed so few copies that she ended up spending $300 of her own money at Staples to copy readings and activities. Twenty teachers had used up all their copies by the ninth week of school, Henderson said.

    “You can’t just use the textbook,” Henderson said. She added that because the school district didn’t buy workbooks for U.S. History, she had to copy the one set that they had purchased. “The machine just cut off when we used it all up. Some of us found out the hard way.”

    What was the exact copy limit? Henderson wasn’t sure because it never went into writing. She guessed that it was about 7,000 sheets a year. That might sound like a lot, but because each teacher works with 180 different students, it pencils out to about 35 copies per student annually.

    I later heard that Clairemont High lifted the limit. I haven’t been able to reach Principal Lenora Smith to confirm.

  • Across town at San Diego High School of Science and Technology, Sara Dozier had to snap up grants to cover the costs of lab supplies for her science class. She used the website DonorsChoose.org to get private donors to pick up the tab. (Check out this article for an explanation of how it works.)

    For Dozier, it posed a dilemma. Finding other ways to cover the costs, such as DonorsChoose.org meant “accommodating the budget cuts,” she realized, by making them invisible. But she didn’t want her students to suffer just to prove a point about how bad the cuts were.

  • Curie Elementary has a beautiful new library, thanks to the last school construction bond, but for months students haven’t been able to check out books. The problem? It needed a library assistant, and San Diego Unified’s hiring freeze had stopped them from getting one.

    Curie got permission to hire one despite the freeze, but the school district had to offer the job to employees with rights to newly opened jobs, one by one, before Curie could get a list of other eligible candidates. Principal Chris Juarez finally interviewed workers for the job this week.

Do you have more examples of how the budget crunch is impacting your school? Post them on the blog or send them to me by e-mail at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org.

— EMILY ALPERT

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