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San Diego Unified School District superintendent Bill Kowba stood in the commons of Chesterton Elementary School on April 22 to "set the record straight." Kowba spoke to the allegations that the district was sitting on $66 million in reserves while it sent nearly 1300 layoff notices to school employees.

The San Diego Education Association criticized the district for what it deemed "unreliable and untrustworthy" financial data. The teacher's union was referring to a line in the budget report entitled "Unextended balances/Set aside" that amounts to $57.3 million.

"Sitting atop reserve funds that are literally quadruple the amount required by law and then issuing more than 1300 layoffs is just flat out reckless," read an article posted on the San Diego Education Association's website on April 18.

Standing among four charts during the mid-afternoon press conference, Kowba rejected those claims. He explained that the $66 million of one-time revenues, including money from the Federal Jobs Bill, and one-time ADA funds will be used in conjunction with the $115 million in reductions to balance the $163 estimated deficit for fiscal year 2012. The remaining $9 million will go into a reserve fund for "unanticipated risks."

The superintendent said the claims "gave false hope" to the 1300 district employees that received layoff notices last month.

"It is a misunderstanding of our financial statement," said Kowba. "We cannot spend any of this money twice. Any use of these dollars to rescind layoff notices [and] we would have to go back dollar for dollar to find cuts in the budget. There is no unused money. We are working to do the best we can to solve a terrible situation."

School board trustee Scott Barnett had some harsher words for the teacher's union and their claims about "rainy day" funds. "I'm extremely saddened and disappointed that the leadership at the teacher's union would deliberately give false hope to hundreds of teachers to lead them to believe that there is a pot of money that can save their jobs. This is not only misleading, it is cruel."

The San Diego Education Association is organizing a rally, the "66 Million Reasons To Rescind Rally," at the district's education center in University Heights on May 10 at 4:15 p.m.

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Comments

Visduh April 22, 2011 @ 9:34 p.m.

In these times of declining funding and a weakening California economy, I really wonder about the mentality of a teachers union that just doesn't seem to understand that "there is no money." But, having said that, I cannot blame them for trying to find the funds for keeping jobs, and this example could have been just like so many earlier ruses that came out of the office on Normal St that lied about the true condition of the district. For three decades now, that school district has been run by a series of classic school administrators who bend the truth to fit their short-term agendas. I don't know which of the superintendents of that district in recent memory was worse. Was it Bersin who was going to remake the whole place in two years to fit his own and never-revealed blueprint? Or was it Bertha Pendleton who blamed her miserable handling of the teachers' strike on racism? They have all sucked, and all lacked basic credibility. After all these years of lies and misrepresentation coming from the "supe" and his/her minions, is it any wonder that the union and the rank-and-file teachers don't believe anything the district now claims?

But guys, aren't these demonstrations and picket lines with the signs and shouts getting old? Yes they are. They're straight out of the 1930's in Scranton, PA. Folks, you may feel good standing out there with your fellow teachers while waving a sign, but we have all seen it before, many times before, and IT IS A WASTE OF TIME AND EFFORT. Very few ever paid much attention to those demonstrations when times were good; now that times are bad, they are just pointless.

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SurfPuppy619 April 24, 2011 @ 6:24 p.m.

Bersin had NO business running a school district. In fact he had no business being a US Attorney. He has no business being Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. He had no business being the chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

But these are all "appointed" gov positions, and like all "appointed" gov jobs, it comes down to who you know-not what you know- to get hired.

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andrewj April 24, 2011 @ 9:31 p.m.

The whole school budget needs to be analyzed. There is no money. Okay. Now, with the money that exists--what are the priorities. How much money is going to administration, new technology, new texts? Prioritize spending. Put the money in the classroom. The system was made to educate the students, pare down to the classroom and the student teacher ratio.

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