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A plan to save hundreds of teachers from the chopping block could be stymied by a legal dispute over whether the schools can use redevelopment dollars to pay salaries.

Frank Alessi, executive vice president of the Centre City Development Corp., wrote an email to the San Diego Unified school board Monday evening:

We are informed that the Board of Education is now contemplating actions in which redevelopment funds obtained by the San Diego Unified School District … would be used for the purpose of paying or augmenting teacher salaries.
Public entities are under significant funding pressure, and we make no comment on the funding needs that may have prompted the District to consider this proposal. However, on behalf of the Agency, we wish to advise you that the use of these funds for this purpose is inconsistent with the Agreement (between the district and CCDC).

School board President Richard Barrera had proposed to use more than $7 million in redevelopment money, passed along from CCDC, to cancel as many educator layoffs as possible. The funds would be shifted from the planned downtown library, where the school district intends to lease a charter school. The school district would cover the costs from its $2.1 billion school construction and renovation bond instead.

The redevelopment money had long been used for building costs and had been presumed to be solely for building costs downtown; its interim attorney, Andra Donovan, recently argued it could legally use the money to cover salaries too. That was welcome news to the school board, which recently voted to warn more than 1,000 educators that they could lose their jobs.

Barrera said he couldn’t comment on the email from Alessi until the board had a chance to talk about it. CCDC spokesman Derek Danzinger could not be reached Monday night.

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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