With students of San Diego Unified schools back to classes, some will find fewer resources available to support their education this year. The school board voted this summer to lay off hundreds of teachers, suspend popular student programs and reduce bus routes.

And more cuts could be coming. The district faces an estimated $57 million budget shortfall next year. If state revenues fall far below what was hoped, the district estimates it would lose another $30 million in funding this year.

Then, the following year, the district projects another $65 million shortfall. As we explained Tuesday, a series of pay raises approved in 2010 are expected to increase costs in the 2013-2014 school year by $53.2 million. The district gambled that the economy would improve by then to pay for the raises but the forecast isn’t looking so good.

This all sounds like a pretty bleak picture so I wanted to put it in perspective by breaking down the district’s budget. The graphic below compares administrative costs, academic costs and the possible future shortfalls. Also keep in mind that the district has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget since 2007.

One quick disclaimer: The totals below represent $676 million of unrestricted money in the school district’s $1.1 billion operating budget. This money is the most flexible and is crucial during budget cuts. The totals don’t include spending on big building projects or federal and state grants tied to certain programs that the district can’t shift to cover normal costs like teacher salaries.

A couple of comparisons stand out to me. Though parents often push for cutting administration before academics, the district would have to slash administration to resolve future shortfalls without touching academics. That means classrooms will likely feel some of the pinch from more budget cuts.

Next year’s estimated $57 million deficit, for example, is larger than each of the district’s administrative departments. Eliminating the budget for the school board, the Superintendent’s Office and all area superintendents wouldn’t come anywhere near filling the budget gap.

Combined, the $30 million possible shortfall this year and the $57 million expected shortfall next year nearly match the current budget for all of the district’s middle schools. Add in the deficit expected in 2013-2014 and the total would exceed the current budget for all high schools ($141 million).

But what else do you find interesting? Check out the graphic and share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He writes about public safety and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

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