Board President's Letter
As Board of Education president, I want to thank our school families, our staff and the entire San Diego community for your continuing support for public education during these challenging economic times.
We will all look back at the 2008-09 school year as a year of challenges because of the economic downturn that has impacted every San Diego family. However, when we look into
the faces of our children, our shared reaction is a feeling of hope, hope for the future that they will create.
For the successful futures of our students to be realized, we all must work together to lay a solid foundation for our children to build upon. That foundation exists in this budget for the 2009-10 school year.
Creating this budget was a monumental challenge for our school district staff. It presented extremely difficult decisions that had to be made by the Board of Education. But as a result of our collective efforts and the positive involvement of our school communities, this budget, as austere as it is, will still lay a positive base for our students to continue to learn and grow as they prepare for successful futures.
As a result of the unprecedented reductions in state funding for K-12 education, many program reductions are included in this budget. In the next school year, the average number of students in our classrooms will increase, there will be fewer resources for teachers and fewer support staff to serve our schools. But, the Board was successful in our efforts to keep most cuts away from
I want to thank our Superintendent and all of our staff throughout the district for their work to cut costs and streamline district operations to make us a far more efficient organization.
These efforts have placed our district in a far better position to weather this current economic storm. Our new streamlined organization has positioned us to be a lean education machine that efficiently invests taxpayer dollars to provide a quality education for every child in the district.
As we begin the new school year, we will miss the expertise and experience of the teachers, administrators and other staff who retired early and helped us to adopt this balanced budget. We offer our deep gratitude for their years of service to the children of San Diego. For the teachers and staff who will open our classrooms for the new school year, we are grateful for their continuing commitment and dedication.
From here, there is only one direction for us to go … UP! Up is a difficult direction, moving uphill requires more work, more focus and more determination. But, if we can move this district upward and if we can help our students strive to elevate their lives through education, we can help them find success in their futures.
That is my wish for all students in San Diego schools, just one direction … UP!
During my first full school year at the San Diego Unified School District, we faced many difficult challenges and enjoyed several significant achievements. What most impressed me about the 2008-09 school year was the unwavering focus of our Board of Education and all of our staff on what really matters most, our students.
The preparation of the 2009-10 budget took place over several months during which we faced continuous fluctuations in the funding information we were receiving from the state. After months of debate, the State Legislature approved a revised budget in February that dramatically cut our current year budget and reduced support for the 2009-10 budget year. In March, our Board met that challenge when they adopted midyear revisions that reduced district expenses by an additional $34 million in the 2008-09 budget. This midyear reduction required many sacrifices by our staff district-wide and was achieved by focusing on more efficient operations and teamwork.
As we prepared this budget for 2009-10, the state continued to reduce projections for revenues for K-12 education. After the defeat of the May 19 budget ballot measures, the state made additional cuts to education funding, approximately $91.5 million for SDUSD on top of earlier cuts. Every department worked diligently to identify a long list of budget reduction options for the Board of Education to consider. To their credit, every board member devoted long hours to listening to the school community and balancing the needs of students with the realities of the deep funding cuts that had to be addressed to produce a balanced budget.
The Board pushed hard on our staff to find more savings in our operations that would allow us to keep funding cuts as far from classroom instruction as possible. Working as a team, we continued our ongoing efforts to "right size" central office administration and to streamline our business processes wherever possible. These reorganization efforts have resulted in a reduction
of more than 270 positions from the central office operations and a reduction in central office non-personnel costs of more than $15.6 million since the beginning of the 2008-09 budget year.
The 2009-10 budget includes many difficult program reductions, most notably increasing class sizes in Kindergarten to 3rd grade by four students. Class sizes in other grades will also increase. This will be a challenge for our teachers but I know that they will remain dedicated to providing quality instruction for every student. On the bright side, thanks to the federal economic stimulus for education, we will be able to implement focused programs to boost student achievement in many of our lowest performing schools. We will also continue our focus on reducing our dropout rate, which showed positive improvement last year.
Looking forward, I am committed to supporting our Board of Education in our shared mission to boost the achievement level of every student as we prepare them for successful futures. I would like to thank every member of the district staff, our teachers, principals, administrators, counselors, librarians, food service workers, bus drivers, custodians, police officers, and all of our support staff for the work they do each day for our children.
Terry B. Grier, Ed.D