The truth behind a couple of time-worn axioms was evident last week when the San Diego Unified School District trustees began to wrestle with Supt. Thomas Payzant's recommendations for trimming nearly $8 million more from next year's school district budget. One axiom has to do with whose ox is being gored and the other with which wheel is most likely to get greased.
As heartbreaking as it is to watch programs that are important to many youngsters being eliminated or cut back, it has been interesting to witness some of the same factions who applaud Gov. George Deukmejian when he cuts social services squirm when his blade slices closer to home. It is Deukmejian's tight-fisted education budget that has required the school board to identify more than $10 million in necessary cuts.
Though the Legislature may ultimately change things, at this point it appears that the district will have to operate on $3 million less next year than this year, despite increased enrollment, some inflation--and assuming employees get no pay raise.
The "Squeaky Wheel Award" must surely go to the parents of students in the Gifted and Talented (GATE) program, who organized a letter-writing and lobbying campaign of epic proportions and successfully prevented Payzant from tacking a $400,000 reduction onto a $600,000 loss in state funds. The GATE parents can only be admired for their dedication and drive, though they are unrealistic in expecting the school board to make deeper cuts elsewhere in order make up for the lost state funds for gifted students.