Eugene Brucker Education Center is headquarters of the San Diego Unified School District. Photo courtesy

The San Diego Unified School District board on Tuesday approved a $1.37 billion budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year intended to improve academic success among lower-income and non-white students.

The budget includes new spending aligned with the district’s “Vision 2020” plan. The district dedicated funds to a new Youth and Advocacy Office aimed at closing the achievement gap, lower class sizes for pre-kindergarten through third grade and increased counselor support and services.

The budget also includes more spending for programs for English learners, special education, black and immigrant students.

The board also adopted the Local Control and Accountability Plan which outlines a top-to-bottom approach for improving student success. District officials cited creating a positive school environment, climate and culture, parent and community engagement and access to a broad and challenging curriculum among their top goals for the 2015-2016 school year.

The budget has a projected deficit of $34.6 million, which was incurred during the Great Recession, according to district officials. District officials plan to continue seeking additional funding at the state and federal levels to lower their deficits.

Despite being in the hole, district officials say for the second consecutive year, there will be no staff layoffs.

The SDUSD budget will again go before school board trustees in late-July with an amendment, following Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval of the state budget later this month.

California’s budget increased the state’s spending on kindergarten through 12th grade education, according to SDUSD officials.

Superintendent Cindy Marten said this year’s budget envisions the district’s “students first” philosophy.

“We are deeply committed to improving academic achievement for all students, creating quality schools in every neighborhood and closing the achievement gap,” Marten said.

The district’s 2015-16 budget must be submitted to the County Office of Education by next Tuesday.

SDUSD trustees also approved designating August as “Dropout Recovery Month” and pledged resources for dropout prevention and the return of students who have left school.

— City News Service

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