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School board member Scott Barnett today released his plan for keeping San Diego Unified out of insolvency, proposing a 10 percent pay cut for employees and a November 2012 parcel tax to restore some of that lost pay.
With the school board facing difficult, looming budget decisions, Barnett said his plan would stave off the most unpopular cuts, avoiding school closures, land sales and the draining of the district’s reserves. Teacher layoffs, and the resulting class-size inflation, could still occur if the state makes midyear cuts to education this year, he said.
“The decisions that this board makes or doesn’t make in the next few weeks could affect not just the upcoming year but potentially decades into the future,” Barnett said.
According to Barnett, his plan would:
• Restore the five days of school lost in the most recent contract with teachers, an added cost of $17 million, and maintain the regular pay increases employees get for their experience at the district.
• Eliminate the proposed across-the-board pay increases that go into effect next year, saving $21 million that year, $22 million the next and $43 million ongoing. He would also restructure health care to save $12 million, charging a premium for employees who chose providers beyond a free Kaiser plan.
• Cut pay 10 percent beginning July 1, saving $60 million a year. There would be a sliding scale that would cut a larger percent for those making more than $150,000 and a smaller amount for those on the bottom end of the pay scale.
• Put a $50-per-parcel tax before voters to raise $60 million a year and restore the employee pay cuts.
The cuts in pay and benefits would require the labor unions to head back to the table to renegotiate, something the district cannot force them to do. So far, the teachers union has rejected the district’s pleas to reopen talks, saying there are better ways for the district to fix its financial problems.
Barnett said he confirmed all the figures in his plan with the district’s chief financial officer.
Fellow school board member John Lee Evans called a subsequent press conference to disagree with Barnett’s plan. Evans, who’s been friendlier to employee groups than Barnett, did say that the employee pay increases need to go away and that the shorter school year, which saves on employee costs, should continue. It’s set to expire at the end of this year.
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