Budget approved by San Diego Unified includes $45M COVID-19 emergency fund

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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Unified Board of Education on Tuesday evening unanimously approved a budget for the upcoming school year that includes a COVID-19 emergency fund.

The measure includes a $45 million fund for COVID-19 emergency expenditures, which will lay the foundation for reopening schools on Aug. 31 as planned, the district said in a statement. Schools will offer options for on-campus and online learning.

“What we need to have between now and when we open in August is rigorous, ubiquitous testing and tracking so that we’ll have a safe community in which to open our schools,” said Board Trustee Michael McQuary.

The board did not have to make any significant layoffs or staff adjustments in order to balance the 2020-21 budget, the district said. But officials stressed the need for additional funding from the federal government.

“Schools are facing, as the superintendent has pointed out on many occasions, an economic recession and new costs with keeping our students safe,” said one district official.

District officials read comments sent in virtually by the public, with some parents concerned about the lack of public input. Others worried about the reliance on federal funding. 

“The unanimous vote this evening by the Board of Education reflects our collective confidence that we can open schools in a timely manner, on schedule, on August 31, with outstanding options for students who want to be on campus, as well as those who wish to learn from home,” said Superintendent Cindy Marten. “The COVID-19 crisis is the biggest adaptive challenge to public education of our lifetimes, and we are ready to meet the challenge.”

Now, the district is turning toward the federal government to help fill the gap.

“Members of our community need to contact our representatives,” said McQuary. “We need to push. We need to advocate for full funding. We need to pass the HEROES Act.”

The district says the HEROES Act would proved an additional $58 billion to schools across the country.

The board is expected to meet again on July 14.

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