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Finding Ways to Cut Learning Is Never Easy : Budget: The fiscal crisis will mean unprecedented loss for the San Diego school system, but the responsible approach is to realize that some programs are more expendable than others.

April 07, 1991|THOMAS W. PAYZANT | Thomas W. Payzant has been San Diego City Schools' superintendent since 1982. Final budget decisions lie with the school board

Money for students in the gifted and talented education program will also be reduced--from $60 per student to $48 per student.

The proposed cut for interscholastic athletics is $200,000 from a $1.6-million budget. A fixed percentage cut for all sports is unacceptable because it would reduce the budgets in some sports below a level that would meet safety standards. Therefore, the tough decision to eliminate some sports must be made unless increases in ticket prices and other forms of community support make up the difference.

Most of the other cuts I have proposed are less controversial. Nothing would make me happier than to have something magical occur in Sacramento that would make many of these deep cuts unnecessary. But the governor's recent announcement that the state's shortfall is now $12.6 billion suggests otherwise. I don't expect miracles to reverse the impact of the recession or repair the structural fissures in California's revenue structure.

The recession will ultimately end, but the gap between the cost of public services Californians need and the dollars generated by a flawed tax structure will not be closed without courageous leadership by our governor, legislators and other leaders who must make the case that we will only get what we are willing to pay for.

Our children deserve better, those living in poverty deserve better, the medically indigent deserve better, the mentally infirm deserve better.

Perhaps the lesson in all of this is for special interests to broaden their narrow focus and to strengthen their advocacy for long-term solutions to the daunting problems created by California's fiscal crisis.

I am reluctantly willing to make the tough decisions, endure the loss of valuable programs and services and crisis-manage for one more year.

But the governor and the Legislature must guarantee an action plan that will bring this wonderfully diverse, culturally stimulating, rapidly changing state to its senses about the equitable distribution of its considerable wealth. They must provide the leadership, and we must find a way to provide the resources to finance the services that will enhance the quality of life for all.

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