The San Diego Unified school board may cancel pink slips for hundreds of teachers by pulling redevelopment funding from the downtown library, money that its attorney now says it can spend to spare teachers, nurses and other employees instead of devoting only to building costs.

The school board had earlier opted to spend $17 million in money that goes from downtown redevelopment to the school district on space for a charter school in the planned downtown library. School district leaders believed the money could only be used on facilities.

Now that the school board has the green light to use redevelopment money on day-to-day costs, school board President Richard Barrera is proposing to use more than $7 million that would have gone to the library lease this year to cancel as many layoff warnings as possible. The school board will vote on the idea next Tuesday. It is unclear exactly how many teachers it would spare; Barrera asked the school district to focus on keeping classes small in the youngest grades.

The schoobrary would still be paid for: San Diego Unified could shift the library spending from redevelopment money to its $2.1 billion school construction bond. That could push back other school renovations, since the district only gets so much bond money each year.

Barrera is also asking to roll back a decision by the school board to seek another $4 million in administrative cuts — a choice that led school district staff to ramp up the number of layoff warnings for educators from roughly 1,100 to more than 1,300.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter:

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

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