Facing a swift-approaching Dec. 13 deadline to approve a fiscal blueprint for the city’s schools, Barnett and other trustees have been crafting individual plans to offset a deficit next year that is projected to be between $60 million and $110 million. The board of education is expected to meet Tuesday, Nov. 29 to approve the first reading of a districtwide consolidation and closure plan that calls for, in part, the consolidation of Pacific Beach Middle School and Mission Bay High School.
In advance of that decision, Barnett outlined his own plan Nov. 14 that he believes can avert insolvency for the district while keeping all schools and extracurricular programs intact — but not without pain.
The highlights of Barnett’s proposal include a 9 percent across-the-board reduction in salaries of SDUSD employees and a restructuring of the district’s health saving plans. According to Barnett’s figures, the 9 percent reduction would save the school district up to $58 million and the restructuring of the health plans would save an additional $12 million.
“It distributes pay cuts fairly among employees, maintains the current class size … and could reverse the recent downgraded credit rating,” Barnett said.
Barnett is also proposing a $50 million-$100 million parcel tax be placed on the November 2012 ballot to counteract the proposed pay cuts as soon as January 2013.
The salary reductions proposed by Barnett would be graduated, based on the employee’s current salary. The higher the salary, he said, the more it would be reduced.
According to Barnett, employees making $40,000 a year would see a 1.75 percent reduction, while those making up to $165,000 a year would take a 12.75 percent reduction. Under his plan, the district’s 2,200 part-time employees would see no reduction in pay.
Other highlights of Barnett’s plan include increasing the school year from its current 175 school-day schedule to 180 by ending furlough days at a cost of $12 million. Maintaining raises at a rate of 0.6 to 2.7 percent would also cost $12 million.
“Most importantly, this plan would maintain education programs and support services at the current level,” Barnett said. “Class sizes would not grow and we won’t need to cut any arts, music or athletics.”
Expectedly, reactions to Barnett’s proposal have been mixed.
Bill Freeman, president of the San Diego Education Association, is strongly opposed to Barnett’s proposal.
“This is political grandstanding and Scott knows it,” Freeman said. “Scott has already flip-flopped in closing schools — which he was for, then he was against — and he now he is for a parcel tax, which he was already against.”
Other locals were more reserved in their assessment of Barnett’s proposal.
“As a member of a community group, we are completely independent of this proposal,” said Brian Catanzaro, chairman of the Mission Bay Cluster. “Of course, no one wants to see the teachers’ pay get reduced.”
Meanwhile, a meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. to discuss SDUSD’s proposed consolidation of Pacific Beach Middle School and Mission Bay High School into a 6th grade through 12th grade international baccalaureate academy.
The public meeting will be held at Pacific Beach Middle School’s Library Media Center, located at 4676 Ingraham St.
The school board is expected to vote on a first reading of the consolidation plan recommendations Nov. 29 with a final vote set for Dec. 13.
For updated information, visit www.sandi.net/realignment.