Budget guru Phil Stover, interim chief special projects officer in San Diego Unified is answering your questions about school budget cuts 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 reader SUSAN: Do the teacher furlough days mean less time in school for the kids and a shorter school year? If so, doesn’t that decrease money coming into the school district? I know if kids are out of school for illness or vacation, the school loses money. So, if the school loses money for fewer days, is there really any savings realized?

(ANSWER from reporter EMILY ALPERT: Yes, the idea behind the furloughs is that the school year would be shortened. It isn’t clear if all employees will have the time off, but the plan is that teachers will.)

ANSWER from PHIL STOVER:California is allowing districts to reduce the school year to 175 days from 180 without losing money for the next few years. Therefore, all unrestricted funds (money that can be used for almost anything) saved by staff furloughs may be used to offset the current or future deficit.

— PHIL STOVER

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