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Sweetwater Union High School District approves recovery plan to balance budget

Posted at 7:33 AM, Mar 11, 2019

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) - The Sweetwater Union High School District Monday night voted to approve a plan aimed at stabilizing the district amid financial turmoil that has led to employee cuts and inquiries into its financial wellness.

The district tweeted Monday night that the "Fiscal Stabilization Plan" was approved in a 5-0 vote.

At a morning press briefing, district leaders said the plan will shave about $20 million from the current budget shortfall by the end of the school year. District leaders also said they believe the issue can be fixed within two years.

The recovery plan comes at a time when the district deals with a budget shortfall of at least $30 million. In recent months, Sweetwater has attempted to get itself out of the red by releasing dozens of assistant principals, school psychologists and other administrative workers, or by offering early retirement for at least 300 district employees and teachers.

RELATED: District's ability to pay bills revoked by Office of Education

In late 2018, an independent audit revealed the district would have to borrow an estimated $93 million in Mello-Roos fees, in addition to already owing money for the budget miscalculation that was discovered just as the 2018-19 school year began.

Sweetwater’s budget woes drew the attention of not only the County Office of Education, but also state education officials.

The COE has since stepped in to take control of the school board’s fiscal decisions, while state officials are looking into possible acts of fraud.

RELATED: District announces pink slip numbers

A Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team official warned the district that it is worse off financially than any other school district in all of California. The official said the state may eventually take over the district if they are not able to right the financial ship.

The district also made headlines recently with the arrest of a former employee on charges of embezzlement.

Click here to view a timeline of the Sweetwater Union High School District's budget problems