Educational potpourri

By Marsha Sutton

Contributor

An accumulation of odds and ends have been stacking up in the last few weeks, so below is an educational potpourri on matters affecting local school districts.

Declining reserves

A budget discussion on the agenda for the San Dieguito Union High School District’s March 3 board meeting shows a declining reserve balance for the district. The cuts in state funding account for the need to dip into emergency reserves.

“Administration must work toward reducing the deficit between income and expenditures, particularly as reserves are being spent down,” reads the report.

The report indicates that the district is still projecting that it will be able to meet its requirement to maintain a minimum 3 percent unrestricted general fund reserve balance. However, the funds are clearly dwindling.

According to the district’s March 3 report, these are the projections:

Unrestricted 2010-2011

Beg. balance: $16.17 million

End balance: $12.15 million

Reserve % : 9 %

Unrestricted 2011-2012

Beg. balance: $12.15 million

End balance: $10.17 million

Reserve % : 7 %

Unrestricted 2012-2013

Beg. balance: $10.17 million

End balance: $8.29 million

Reserve % : 5 %

The trend indicates that the following year, 2013-2014, the district will be at its 3-percent minimum level, unless more funding can be secured.

SDUHSD associate superintendent Rick Schmitt said it is unlikely that programs will be eliminated for the coming year, but a $3 million cut was needed. As a result, schools may need to reduce their counselors, coaches, gardeners and other support staff. It will also mean not replacing retiring teachers, resulting in larger class sizes.

At a recent budget workshop, a number of drastic cuts were proposed, one of which was eliminating the 4x4 schedule, in use at Canyon Crest Academy and San Dieguito Academy. The 4x4 schedule is more expensive than the traditional year-long calendar in use at Torrey Pines and La Costa Canyon high schools.

But Schmitt said there was no way the school board would eliminate the 4x4. That was a non-starter, he said, and was never seriously considered.

Islam complaint

In response to a formal complaint by three individuals objecting to the presentation of Islam in the San Dieguito Union High School District’s seventh-grade history textbook, SDUHSD superintendent Ken Noah has asked the school board to refer the complaint to the California Department of Education.

“Since the textbook in question was reviewed and adopted at the state level, and given that this is an issue of statewide concern as the text is widely used in districts across the state, it is appropriate that this matter be referred to the California Department of Education for re-evaluation and decision,” reads the agenda item for SDUHSD’s March 3 board meeting.

“It was a state-adopted text, and it came about as a result of a fairly intensive … process at the state level,” Noah said.

Because this textbook, adopted by the district in 2006, is used widely across the state, Noah said he is obligated to bring it to the attention of the CDE because it potentially affects many other California school districts and “is more than just a concern about San Dieguito.”

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