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Sweetwater Union High School district budget woes worse than predicted

Sweetwater Union High School District
Sweetwater Union High School District education center
Posted at 5:56 PM, Dec 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-11 11:11:26-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - The budget issues at the Sweetwater Union High School District appear to be worse than originally predicted, and it has cost some teachers their jobs.

On Monday night, the district's school board voted to cut 34 temporary teaching positions in the district's adult education program.

One of the teachers losing their jobs, Dottie Giffen, told the board members at the public meeting, "You could say sorry a million times, and the mess that you got us into does not make any of us feel better."

Many parents say they are fed up with the cuts and want someone to be held accountable.

Giffen said of the district's leadership: "We have no faith, no trust. We want the district cleared out. We want to start over fresh."

According to an audit released at the school board meeting on Dec. 3, the district is in its current financial state because of a number of issues, including internal borrowing, unsustainable salary increases, and a decline in student enrollment.

The new audit was first reported by The Voice of San Diego, showing the district is borrowing money faster than it can pay back, taking money from Mello-Roos fees on people’s property taxes. This fiscal year alone the will borrow $93 million dollars in addition to the $36 million they already owe.

Parents are now hoping the county or state will take over and balance the budget. One parent told 10News he wants the district employees out, replaced by someone with a fresh set of eyes.

County education officials told 10News they are monitoring the situation and issued this statement:

“The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) continues to monitor and work with the Sweetwater Union High School District to resolve the district’s 2018-19 budget shortfalls. Ensuring the students of Sweetwater Union High School District are supported and provided every opportunity to succeed is the highest priority of the district and SDCOE.”

The district also sent 10News a statement reacting to the audit:

“Over the past few months the Sweetwater Union High School District has faced very significant challenges with respect to our organizational budget. As we have previously outlined, several factors such as increased costs to the district and decreased enrollment and attendance have placed us in a very difficult position.

However, Sweetwater, like many other districts across the state, has endured challenges like this in the past. We have worked diligently to stabilize our budget and taken measures to do so. There is still much work to be done, but ultimately we are confident that by working with our internal and external partners, we can move forward in a positive manner to best serve the students and families of our district.”