Sweetwater Union High School District’s Fiscal Impropriety Results in Massive Budget Cuts for the Coming School Years

The Sweetwater Union High School District is in some hot water. As the largest high school district in the state of California with about 39,000 students, the Sweetwater Union High School District made large cuts to next year’s school budget that will make it difficult for schools to function effectively and negatively impact staff and students.

In June, the San Diego County of Education approved Sweetwater’s original budget cut of $10 million out of the annual $395 million budget. However, on October 8, Sweetwater’s School Board approved a new budget cut of $24 million dollars for the next school year on a 4-1 vote. There may also be an $11.5 million budget cut for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Board Trustee Paula Hall disapproved of the new budget since there were no workshops for the new budget cut revisions and questioned whether or not the budget would be equally distributed across the district schools.

The budget cuts for next year were large since this year’s budget cuts were delayed. Not only did they delay this year’s budget cuts, but they also revised the next school year’s budget because the San Diego County Office of Education rejected their original budget. The reason for the rejection was the belief that their budget is partially inaccurate and their statements deliberately mispresented their spending number.

However, Superintendent Karen Janney claimed that the San Diego County Office of Education “was made to convince our staff and community that our adopted budget is deliberately not telling the truth about our fiscal reality simply because [the county office] does not agree with our solutions nor our projections.”

The budget cuts will impact many socioeconomically disadvantaged students such as the ones in San Ysidro High School, where 80 percent of the students are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged. For example, with these budget cuts, there will be fewer bus services provided for the students of San Ysidro High School. However, the district stated that 110 of their roughly 2,400 student body will get bus passes.

Sweetwater is being audited by a state fiscal agency for potential financial fraud since because there were assumptions that they spent more money then they stated and misrepresented their finances. 

Lastly, the San Diego County of Education will respond to the new budget cut by November 8.