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Six budget staffers in the San Diego Unified School District are getting pay raises and new job responsibilities as part of a sweeping reorganization of the district’s central offices.

Interim Superintendent Bill Kowba told the school board that the changes were “long overdue” and would bring employees’ pay in line with their responsibilities in the infamously stressful budget office. Employees can petition for such changes themselves if they feel their job responsibilities and pay no longer match what they actually do, a longstanding practice in the school district.

The salary bumps add more than $49,000 to the payroll in the middle of a budget crunch that is expected to cost teachers and other workers their jobs. Interim Chief Financial Officer Phil Stover said those added salary costs will be offset by reducing other expenses in the budget department, such as supplies and workers hired on an hourly basis. But the department could cut those costs anyway.

Labor unions balked at the change, complaining that some of the budget employees who are getting a raise are already earning more than $100,000. Other employees who are trying to get their jobs and pay changed have faced long delays, said David Fernandez, a labor representative for office workers.

School board member Shelia Jackson said increasing pay for budget staffers made no sense while laying off teachers and other employees, especially since the school district was going to have the same staffers as before. She was the only school board member to vote against the move Tuesday night.

“It’s not a matter of valuing people that make more money,” said school board member John de Beck, responding to Jackson’s criticism. “It’s a matter of needing the information in order to run the organization.”

Jackson replied angrily: “But this is the same staff reorganizing and getting a pay increase … We’re going to take the same group of people and give them raises and now expect to get good numbers?”

— EMILY ALPERT

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