Sunnyside seeks to balance budget while challenges loom - Tucson News Now

Sunnyside seeks to balance budget while challenges loom

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Sunnyside Unified School District governing board is already cutting a total of more than four million dollars total for next year.  But they still don't know what the state will give them, or how hard federal cuts will hit if Congress doesn't meet its deadline this week.

"And I'm talking about community members that did not support this override!" Sunnyside Education Association president Kathy Dong said to the board during call to the audience at the meeting Tuesday night.

Sunnyside voters rejected an override in November, which would have maintained funding for the district.

Now the board is scrambling to find savings without harming programs like Ocotillo Learning Center that integrates special education and general education students.

"We feel right now we can make some reductions without sacrificing quality.  And we're surely not going to commit to any violation of compliance in any way," said district superintendent Dr. Manuel Isquierdo.

"Everybody's been asked to commit to the five percent or the ten percent off the top somewhere, and no matter what we do at Ocotillo, if we cut a piece of the program, it's going to hurt, so we'll be doing some cutting," said board president Louie Gonzales.

But even if they pull off balancing the budget as carefully as possible, the board still does not know what could fall from above.

"What are we going to do? The whole state, the government, everybody's experiencing it.  And it trickles down to us as well," Gonzales said.

Another impact that students might feel next year is that elementary school library aids will focus more on computer repair instead of assisting librarians.  As a result, librarians will do more clerical work, and will have less time to teach how to do research or to help teachers on that subject.

The board should have a more detailed idea for the future of Ocotillo Learning Center at its March 12th meeting.

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