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School board candidate Scott Barnett said today that San Diego Unified shouldn’t show the city of San Diego the money — money for its downtown library, that is.

Barnett argued the school district shouldn’t pay up unless the city guarantees it won’t be hurt by the recent late-night deal that lifted the limit on city-subsidized redevelopment downtown. The San Diego Unified money is crucial to building the city’s long-desired library.

It’s not clear that schools would actually lose any money under the redevelopment deal, however. San Diego Unified spokesman Bernie Rhinerson said the school district has not analyzed what it would gain or lose.

Monica Henestroza, who handles government affairs for San Diego Unified, said that the state would have to make the school district whole if it lost tax revenue to the deal. Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who wrote the bill, said the same thing.

And a Senate committee report said that California could end up paying more out of its day-to-day budget to help schools.

Under redevelopment, the city keeps a larger share of taxes that would have gone to county government and the school district, using the funds to subsidize downtown development.

While this is already happening now, the deal ensures that redevelopment downtown will continue through 2033, 10 years longer than it would have otherwise.

Barnett said he simply doesn’t trust the state to follow through on school funding. “They’ve already been robbing schools of funds,” he said. “The legislature giveth and the legislature taketh away.”

San Diego Unified is chipping in $20 million to lease two floors of the downtown library for a charter school. Without that money, it’s likely the library plan would’ve died.

The district’s first payment of $5 million is supposed to happen in the next few weeks. Barnett said his hardball tactic would protect schools.

“The midnight deal … has sent a message that the interests of San Diego’s schoolchildren come second to downtown development and a new Chargers stadium,” Barnett wrote in a press release.

This blog post originally misidentified a report from a senate committee as being from the state legislative analyst. We regret the error.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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