Opinion: San Diego Unified School District must spend COVID-19 windfall money on students – The San Diego Union

Re “Substitutes, summer school and bonuses: Inside San Diego schools’ COVID-19 stimulus spending” (Sept. 5): One-third of San Diego Unified School District’s $670 million pandemic windfall of federal and state COVID-19 money has been spent and is vaguely accounted for, according to the article.

Unclear whether the $262 million mostly went to raising existing employee salaries, to increasing staff or to helping students — thousands of whom have disappeared from the rolls and thousands more who are academically deficient.

Despite artful dodging by SDUSD spokespeople, we learned about blanket 4.5 percent employee retention bonuses this year; extra-pay bounties-per-student for teachers who allowed their classes to grow beyond union-contracted large class sizes; and hiring bonuses for still-scarce nurses and special education instructors.

Not good, but $400 million more will be spent by 2024. I hope SDUSD will redress the balance by spending pandemic bonanza leftovers on smaller classes, on counseling and on targeted academic help for students who are struggling.

Frances O’Neill Zimmerman

La Jolla

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