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Parents worry about cuts coming to Sweetwater Union High School District

Posted: 6:00 PM, Oct 24, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-25 16:16:58Z

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Sweetwater Union High School District officials say their revised budget will not have a major impact on students, but some parents are getting notices from schools informing them of cuts to some afterschool programs, tutoring and summer school.

The discovery of an accounting miscalculation over the summer led to a $30 million budget shortfall that the district rushed to fix. On Oct. 8, the district’s board unanimously approved a revised and balanced 2018-19 budget. The San Diego County Office of Education has until Nov. 8 to approve it.

Changes to the budget include furlough days for numerous district employees, elimination of paid training days for teachers and cuts to the adult education program. Other cost-saving measures in the budget include energy conservation strategies and a reduction in travel expenses.

RELATED: Sweetwater Union High School District passes revised budget

In a statement, district officials said: “Throughout this budget challenge, we believe that we have remained pragmatic, honest, and transparent in our efforts. This process has also enabled us to implement new practices and protocols that will help prevent this situation in the future.”

CLICK HERE TO READ REVISED BUDGET

District spokesman Manny Rubio said the revisions would not have an impact on district students. He also said schools in the district would not see major changes or reductions in staffing or programs.

“There will be no major changes, and student impact will be minimized as we go forward with the plan,” Rubio told 10News.

However, last week, officials at Rancho Del Rey Middle School sent a letter to families informing them of “cutbacks that may affect some parents as they plan for their students outside of school activities.”

In the letter, Rancho Del Rey officials said a tutoring program at the school would no longer be offered “due to a district-wide budget shortfall.” The letter went on to say summer school in June 2019 would not be offered.

Good afternoon Parents and Caregivers,

Due to a district-wide budget shortfall, we are experiencing cutbacks that may affect some parents as they plan for their students outside of school schedules:

  • Effective tomorrow, the after-school homework center in the library will no longer be offered.
  • LCAP-funded tutoring, including morning math tutoring in the library and Advisory tutoring with Mr. Braito and Ms. Herrera will no longer be offered.
  • Summer school in June of 2019 will not be offered.
  • Credit recovery after school will not be offered, although currently we are still having opportunities during the school day

Please know that in keeping with the tradition of educational excellence there will be no impact on the classes offered to our students. Students and parents are encouraged to maintain contact with classroom teachers regarding supports that might be offered during Advisories and lunches.

Earlier this week, a parent whose child attends Otay Ranch High School and a parent with a child at Eastlake High School both said they received the same letter verbatim.

Asked about the letter, Rubio told 10News specific schools were not being ordered to make any cuts. He said the district asked individual schools to make adjustments “to help be more efficient.” He added that each school is responsible for determining how they make those adjustments.

RELATED: Sweetwater District school informs parents of cuts

Regarding the specific contents of the letter, Rubio said tutoring would not be completely eliminated; it would be moved to a different time during the school day.

As for summer school, Rubio confirmed that summer classes would not be offered at Rancho Del Rey and students looking to take those classes will have to go to a different site. The district is planning to release more information on summer school, including potential locations, by the end of this year, Rubio said.

Rubio told 10News reporter Laura Acevedo that the letter also miscommunicated what was actually going to happen.

“That's something that we're talking to our schools [about], to better communicate that,” Rubio said.

Even with that explanation, many parents like Nadia Kean-Ayub said they aren’t sure what to tell their children.

“I think the district knows where the hit should lie. I think they know that it shouldn’t be the kids,” Kean-Ayub told 10News.

Kean-Ayub said her son, a sophomore at Eastlake High School, found out in class that specific programs would be eliminated.

"My son went to school yesterday and they told all the students there was going to be no after school or before school tutoring and that they were going to cut summer school,” said Kean-Ayub.

According to Kean-Ayu, a parent meeting at Eastlake High was held Tuesday in which school officials told parents about potential cuts to sports, such as the possible elimination of water-based sports and cutting bus rides to away games or meets.

Eastlake High School’s principal told Acevedo that he never said that. Asked about sports transportation, Rubio explained that schools may have to share buses for away games.

Rubio said the district will post a breakdown of the revised budget on their website in the coming days that will hopefully answer any questions the public may have.

"What I would say to parents is definitely, we want to be partners in your education and part of what we're doing is that we're open to ideas," said Rubio.

Kean-Ayub added, "Suddenly, all the taxes we pay, all the effort that we make to move our kids to Chula Vista is for naught."