A San Diego Unified school board meeting / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

San Diego Unified is again considering layoffs to help close a $70 million budget hole expected next year, reports VOSD’s Ashly McGlone.

Just two months ago, the district was projecting a $58 million deficit, but officials didn’t explain what caused the budget hole to shoot up by $12 million, and did not respond to questions about the rise.

More budget cut details will emerge in coming months, but in a presentation to the district’s school board trustees on Tuesday’s night, the district laid out “strategic layoffs of certificated/classified as needed in March” as a “potential shift” and listed a hiring freeze, spending freeze and program shifts among solutions.

Across-the-border raises for the district’s 10,500 employees blew up the district’s balanced budget, creating a big new structural deficit.

When the district was forced to make cuts in 2017, principals and other administrators said the cuts caused chaos in their schools. Clerical positions went vacant, the district slashed custodial staff and special education staffing dipped so low that parents feared for their students’ safety.

Congressional Leaders Cheer Sweet Border Sewage Cash

San Diego’s congressional delegation helped secure $300 million in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — the new NAFTA — for the Environmental Protection Agency to put toward addressing pollution in the Tijuana River Valley.

“I am encouraged that an agreement has been reached on a new trade pact with Mexico and Canada, which includes significant federal resources that I fought for to address pollution in the Tijuana River Valley,” Rep. Mike Levin said in a statement. “This environmental issue has plagued our region for generations and this funding will take major strides in helping us address health and ecological challenges we face. Along with my colleagues, I made it clear to the Trump administration and House Democratic leadership that it is long past time that we make robust investments in cleaning up polluted water that flows over the border.”

The sewage and contamination flows from Tijuana have closed public beaches in San Diego for more than 200 days this year, according to Courthouse News.

Levin’s deal comes a week after leaders across San Diego passed coordinated resolutions pushing the federal government to fund an EPA plan to deal with the cross-border sewage issue that was unveiled in June. We rounded up the most recent developments in dealing with the cross-border sewage issue in Monday’s Border Report. 

Hunter Senior Is Backing Issa for Congress

Former Rep. Duncan Hunter Sr. has endorsed former Rep. Darrell Issa to replace his son in Congress. It also just so happens that Issa recently suggested to the Union-Tribune editorial board that President Donald Trump should grant clemency to the younger Hunter, who pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation. 

Issa questioned whether putting Hunter behind bars made sense financially, or whether giving him community service would better serve the public. 

In other words, as U-T columnist Michael Smolens explained Wednesday: “A former congressman endorses another former congressman for a seat he once held that is now occupied by his son, who is stepping down because he admitted committing a federal crime — and who the endorsee is advocating should be considered for clemency.” 

Talk radio show host Carl DeMaio, who’s competing against Issa, had some thoughts too. 

“This is just Darrell Issa’s quid-pro-quo reward for shamelessly defending Duncan Hunter Jr’s behavior for two years and suggesting Hunter be granted clemency instead of being punished,” he told Smolens in a statement. 

Behind the Fight Over North River Farms

A group of Oceanside community members are gathering signatures to reverse the City Council’s November approval of a 585-home development in Morro Hills and recall a councilman who supported it.

They’re upset because they say the project would mean the loss of some of the last remaining farmland in Oceanside and increase sprawl. The develop said the residents were “anti-growth.”

Kayla Jimenez has more on the potential ballot showdown in the North County Report. 

MTS Debates Transit Tax Measure Plans

Regional leaders on the Metropolitan Transit System’s board are set to consider Thursday two different visions for how the agency could spend tax revenue from a sales tax hike tentatively planned for the November ballot.

The board has been holding community meetings, conducting polling and compiling interactive responses for months to inform any final measure. It could decide to send its plan out for another round of public input after a hearing on the two possible spending plans.

One of the two proposed spending plans includes the Purple Line, a new trolley line from inland South Bay to the job center in the Sorrento Valley area. That project would account for about a third of the measure’s money and be finished in about 2046.

The second spending plan puts more money on increasing frequency on existing trolley lines, expanding bus service to 24 hours, improving frequencies on local bus routes, adding new local bus routes, and creating 18 new high-frequency bus routes like the existing Rapid service. That spending plan spends about half of its money on those ideas, compared to about a third of the spending in the spending plan that includes the Purple Line.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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