Got burning questions about the school district budget and cuts? Phil Stover, who helped oversee the budgeting process at San Diego Unified, is taking your questions on our blog today. Shoot him an e-mail at pstover@sandi.net — or post your questions here. Our first round of questions and answers will go up this morning! Now for the newsblitz:

  • Student attendance rates reached a celebrated peak last year — but it looks like a drop this year could dent budgets, sending $3.3 million less to San Diego Unified than last year. We explore why.
  • The Union-Tribune reports on the deal that San Diego Unified is striking with its teachers union and the question of how the district will pay for a future raise. KPBS notes that while the deal protects staffing for counselors and nurses, layoffs are still possible.
  • The Associated Press writes that both racist incidents and anti-racist protests are spreading across the California university system.
  • More than 5,000 Los Angeles Unified educators are getting layoff warnings, the Los Angeles Times blogs.
  • Families can transfer their children elsewhere if their schools falter under No Child Left Behind, but students rarely do it in Sacramento, the Bee writes.
  • A Bay Area school district just passed a parcel tax to get more local funding for schools, the Mercury News reports. San Diego Unified has been exploring the same idea.
  • Educated Guess blogs that the firing of all teachers at a Rhode Island high school is a cautionary tale about school turnarounds.
  • Racial segregation at charter schools is becoming a hot topic in Sacramento, KCRA.com reports.
  • A big ouch for high school counselors: A survey found that most high school graduates say they got little useful guidance about college or careers from their counselors, the New York Times reports.
  • The Wall Street Journal writes that when the Obama Administration announces the finalists for Race to the Top, a competition for a second dose of stimulus funds, very few states are likely to win. (And California isn’t on the short list.) In a guest blog in the Washington Post, Rick Hess criticizes the whole process for being opaque.
  • ProPublica has a nifty stimulus spending tracker that breaks out education spending.
  • Also in the WaPo: A new survey from the Gates Foundation reveals that teachers say supportive leaders are much, much more important than merit pay in keeping top talent in the classroom. We found studies with similar findings when researching why teachers stayed at this disadvantaged school.

— EMILY ALPERT

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