The Morning Report
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Since the recession, San Diego Unified School District has benefited from statewide tax hikes, a local tax hike for school construction (sold in part as a way to relieve pressure on the system’s budget), an expanding economy that has churned out more money for schools and an advantageous change in how California allocates school dollars.
And yet, cuts are coming to San Diego city schools.
Officials must chop $116.6 million in spending from next year’s $1.3 billion budget.
The district has been pulling from reserves to cover costs, but this year, that’s not available.
We don’t know how trustees will choose to close the budget gap, but staff will propose a reorganization of the district office, changes in health benefits and layoffs. Patricia Koch, interim chief financial officer for the district, told McGlone that the district will try to layoff as few as possible.
Less state funding due to declining student attendance, plus rising employee benefit and retirement costs are helping drive the financial situation at San Diego Unified.
The cuts come on the heels of recently approved 4 percent employee pay raises that take effect this school year.
• The U-T also talked to Koch and others about San Diego Unified’s coming cuts and possible layoffs.
Behind the Scenes of the Trump University Lawsuit
The U-T talks to attorneys from the small downtown San Diego law firm that took on the class-action lawsuit filed against Donald Trump and his defunct Trump University.
When the case first kicked off, Helen Zeldes, an attorney at Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck, attended a 90-minute Trump University seminar in San Marcos. She was not impressed.
“My heart broke,” Zeldes told the U-T. “I thought, wow, this is really a dog and pony show…”
Trump eventually settled the case, paying $25 million to thousands of former students but never admitting to any liability or wrongdoing.
San Diegans Rejected Trump, Lilac Hills
Lucas O’Connor, a Democrat who starts work with Councilman Chris Ward Monday, compiled some interesting tallies and takeaways from the final countywide ballot count.
President-elect Donald Trump, for instance, won only four of San Diego County’s 18 cities, and only reached 50 percent in one city: Santee.
Also, Measure B, the private developer’s bid to bypass current county zoning laws and build 1,700 homes near Valley Center, lost every supervisor, city and council district in the county.
Senators Demand Thorough Investigation of FieldTurf
Two United States senators from New Jersey are asking the Federal Trade Commission to look into the business practices of FieldTurf. NJ.com got a copy of the letter the two Democratic senators sent the commission’s chairperson on Sunday.
The artificial turf company was the subject of a recent VOSD investigation. Our series looked into how San Diego County’s public schools have funneled tens of millions of dollars to FieldTurf, which spent years installing a defective product, and then demanded schools pay more money for a sturdier replacement.
Weekend News Roundup
• No pressure, Councilman-elect Chris Ward: You just have to rock at representing District 3, and then go on to do something even bigger and better like the last three predecessors who held your seat and then graduated to higher offices. (U-T)
• Reveal reporter Trey Bundy has been investigating how Jehovah’s Witnesses hide child sexual abuse in their congregations. It turns out that a San Diego lawyer has a box of related documents that Bundy really wants to get his hands on, but the local lawyer’s been ordered by a judge not to release the papers to anyone.
• This year’s Posada Without Borders holiday event held simultaneously at Border Field State Park on the U.S. side of the international border fence and Playas de Tijuana in Mexico was especially poignant given the world’s growing refugee crisis, which has hit Tijuana especially hard this past year. (U-T)
• Santee’s got a nice new public park, and it’s named after Ken Collier, a San Diego Sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty.
• The University of San Diego has adopted its own Climate Action Plan, a set of measures meant to reduce the school’s greenhouse gas emissions.
• A story KPBS’ Claire Trageser did in November on the Spreckels Organ Society’s international search for a new civic organist made an appearance Sunday on NPR’s Weekend Edition.