Students sound off over proposed school district budget cuts

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SAN DIEGO — Students made sure school leaders with the Sweetwater Union High School District knew they were not happy with recently proposed budget cuts.

“The students and staff shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of your mismanagements,” one student said during a Monday evening board meeting. “If you think you’re showing us you care, you’re doing a horrible job of it.”

Board members voted 3-2 at the last budget meeting earlier this year to possibly lay off more than 200 employees, including councelors and librarians.

The proposed cuts would also take away students’ learning centers.

School officials say the district is in a tough spot financially due to a steady decline in student enrollment and rising pension costs.

Lucy Ugarte is a teacher who helped organize a protest and march before Monday’s meeting. She said she believes the leaders are making a mistake.

“It’s a one-year cut that keeps them in a positive budget, instead of a multi-year plan that would be less devastating to students,” Ugarte said. “Our students are aware of what’s going on. They are educated, they are smart, they are community-oriented.”

Leaders discussed the district’s recovery plan during the meeting and shared words of encouragement.

“Hopefully we still have time to address this shortfall,” one board member said. “Looking forward, we want to continue having conversations to protect and maintain as many positions as possible in the district.”

School leaders are expected to hear a budget update in May.

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