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Budget guru Phil Stover, interim chief special projects officer in San Diego Unified is answering your questions about school budget cuts today on our blog. Confused by the cuts or the budget crisis? Have bigger questions about how the budget works? Ask Stover your questions by e-mail at pstover@sandi.net or post them here. We’ll be putting up your questions and answers throughout the day. Where necessary, I’ve included some added explanation of my own in italics to help smooth out any eduspeak. Enjoy! — EMILY ALPERT

QUESTION from parent DEBBIE O’TOOLE: The teacher allotment for the new budget is under 5,000 certificated teachers in the classroom. (O’Toole is referring to the number of teachers that San Diego Unified provides to schools using ordinary funding and a basic staffing formula for how many teachers each school needs.) The union touts over 8,000 members and the district claims over 7,000 certificated teachers. Enrollment has dropped, but the number of certificated staff has increased over the last 10 years. Why can’t they eliminate certificated positions within the central office, reducing the staff by 500-1,000?

AND: How does the bargaining group justify cutting instructional days (through furloughs) when the directive was to cut as far away from the kids as possible?

ANSWERS from PHIL STOVER:The number of total and certificated employees (those who have credentials, such as teachers or nurses) has reduced since 2004, when the teachers union had 8,565 members. On Sept. 30, 2009, there were 7,432 members. The total employee count has dropped during the same time frame.

On Sept. 30, 2009 there were 7,432 total certificated positions in the district including 6,439 classroom teachers. There were at that time 993 additional certificated personnel in the district including counselors, nurses and librarians who are not counted as classroom teachers even though they are certificated and certainly serve the students.

The teacher “allotment” you refer to relates to the baseline allocations (of teachers) provided to each site only through unrestricted funds. Many schools hire additional classroom teachers through the use of restricted funds. Also there are many certificated teachers like English Language Support Teachers and visual and performing arts teachers who are not in the allotment or allocation formula, but whom serve students daily. That is why the total is higher than the 5,000 you mention.

As of December 2009, we identified 202 certificated non-managers in the district central office (not including special education). Many of them serve as resource teachers providing special services to students (non-classroom) and teachers in special curricular areas or in professional development.

After the school board actions this year, there will indeed be fewer of these resource teachers available to serve students and teachers. There are only a handful of certificated managers (I don’t know the exact number) left in the district’s central office.

(To answer the second question) I would not presume to speak for any of our union groups. You will have to ask them that question.

— PHIL STOVER

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