San Diego Unified has a new answer to the question of just how many employees will be laid off next year to close a $124.4 million budget deficit.

San Diego Unified School officials recently added new layoff numbers to its budget FAQ page, disclosing employee cuts in three categories: 585 non-teaching staff, at least 100 administrators, plus 891 teachers, counselors, nurses and others. That makes a total of 1,576 layoffs.

The new numbers represent the latest update in what’s been a confusing process as parents, district employees and journalists struggle to understand exactly what the budget cuts represent, and what impact they’ll have on classrooms and families.

The number of employees being cut has been one of the seemingly straightforward data points that has turned out to be difficult to discern – and it’s changed more than once.

The 1,576 layoff notices include full-time and part-time employees whose hours add up to at least 977 full-time equivalent positions. That latter number still doesn’t match district documents approved by the board, which showed about 1,500 full-time equivalent positions cut.

To arrive at that number, you have to manually tally more than 800 line items on several district documents showing employee cuts that were posted online and approved by the school board Feb. 28.

On Feb. 22, board member John Lee Evans told Fox 5 just 400 to 500 positions would be cut, possibly referring to the teacher cuts alone.

Superintendent Cindy Marten was asked directly about “850” jobs cut in an interview with Fox 5 on March 1. Marten never corrected the anchors’ numbers.

10News reported the job losses at “more than 800.” The San Diego Union-Tribune initially reported 850 jobs would be cut and is now reporting 977 positions will be lost.

One document – showing 891 full-time equivalent positions cut for teachers, counselors, nurses, vice principals and some others – continues to be a source of confusion.

It’s the same document media outlets initially relied on when first reporting the cuts, because it appeared to succinctly summarize the reductions. In reality, it left out non-teaching jobs cut like school police, food service workers, custodians, IT workers and so many others listed individually on different documents.

Now, the district says that single document reflects just 473 full-time equivalent positions cut, causing 891 employee layoffs. But the confusion will probably continue, because that document still shows 891 “Total FTE” – full-time equivalent – positions cut. It’s possible the document was mislabeled and the wrong numbers were used, but a district spokeswoman wouldn’t confirm that’s the case.

And so, the mystery continues, but at least we can all agree at least 1,500 employees will be cut one way or another next year, leaving fewer employees to serve more than 100,000 students.
Teachers will receive layoff notices by next week, and others will receive notices in April.

Ashly is a freelance investigative reporter. She formerly worked as a staff reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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