San Diego County school districts react to state budget cuts

Posted at 4:30 PM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 21:31:00-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — California schools are racing to figure out how to handle billions of dollars in budget cuts from the state.

Distance learning is a new concept for traditional schools, but some charter schools already have it mastered.

"This is our business," said superintendent Kathleen Hermsmeyer with Springs Charter Schools. "It's been our business for years so we're positioned to support students maybe better than traditional schools ."

Springs Charter Schools services students throughout Southern California with about 1,300 students in San Diego County. Most of those students were already used to online learning long before the era of COVID-19.

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Since the pandemic started, Hermsmeyer says applications for enrollment have gone up 10% to 15%.

But, that school, like many others, faces budget cuts from the state for next school year.

"10% budget cuts are horrendous," said Hermsmeyer. "Especially in light of the pandemic."

Evelyn Erives enrolled her two kids in October 2019. Both would share time between classroom and online learning. So, when the pandemic hit, the change was easy.

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"Transitioning to the five days a week, learning from home was a no brainer," said Erives.

She believes the charter program are better equipped to handle budget cuts than traditional schools.

"We are already set up for a really easy move into whatever the world becomes," Erives.

The County Office of Education sent 10News the following statement from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Gothold:

"Schools will be asked to do more in the 2020-21 school year than ever before, radically transforming campuses and implementing rigorous health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our children need additional services to accelerate learning, promote instructional continuity, and address social-emotional and mental health.

Doing this takes funding, and the funding levels presented in the May Revise do not support what schools need to reopen safely during a pandemic. In fact, the budget calls for a reduction of $12.3 billion for K-12 public education, a decrease of almost 20% from the proposed January education budget.

In his remarks yesterday, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for Congress to act swiftly and pass the HEROES Act. I echo that call on behalf of San Diego County's 42 school districts and 127 charter schools, and the 508,000 students we serve."

While traditional schools navigate a new way of learning with limited funds, Erives says she's pointing parents in another direction.

"Did you now you can get this individualized program for your kids? Did you know that this was out there? I think a lot of parents just don't know," said Erives.

The Chula Vista Elementary School District is also facing cuts. They released the following statement:

"CVESD would experience a $24 million reduction in revenues compared to what it had been expecting from the governor’s January proposal for the 2020-21 fiscal year. As we know, much has happened over the last couple of months that has changed our CVESD community and the world. CVESD is currently working with a broad group of stakeholders to develop a re-opening plan for campuses."