How you can help Mexico earthquake victims

San Diego schools may slash hundreds of positions to balance budget

SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Unified School Board held a meeting Tuesday night to reveal a proposed plan to close its $124 million budget deficit.

The meeting at the Eugene Brucker Education Center drew dozens of angry students, parents and teachers that spoke out against the cuts to the district’s $1.3 billion budget.

The framework includes the cuts of 833 positions, from teachers to maintenance workers.

Board member John Lee Evans discussed the proposed plan on the FOX 5 Morning News. Evans said only a fraction of those layoffs will become reality.

“We’ve eliminated certain positions,” Evans said. “We’ve eliminated between 400 and 500 positions based on needs these particular schools have.”

In January, the school district – the second largest in the state – announced that the projected deficit for the 2017-18 budget had increased from $117 million to $124 million.  The deficit is blamed on declining enrollment and rising pension costs.

“We are seeing a major increase in the contributions we need to make to that retirement system," Superintendent Cindy Marten said.

Marten told FOX 5 that making cuts is never easy, but she wanted to do it with the students kept front and center.

“I’ve committed to not raising core class sizes,” she said. “Parents don't need to be concerned about class sizes going up."

Marten has said core class size will remain at 24 students through third grade, less than 36 students in grades four and five and no more than 36 students in middle and high schools.

The cuts include proposed pay cuts for board members and the superintendent herself.

“I’m very true to my word that the cuts will come from the top first," Marten said. "We'll do it in a way that will cause the least amount of harm, but to say that there won't be harm or there won't be change -- there will be."

For parent Angela Franz, the harm comes in the way of losing the vice principal at her son's school. She calls it a cut at the heart of his education.

"They're directly affecting the population," Franz told FOX 5. "Personally, at our school, our VP is my son's favorite person in the whole school."

The board will vote next Tuesday on whether or not to approve the framework. If any layoffs are approved, notices will go out by March 15.