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Sunnyside School District facing budget cuts

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TUCSON - The second largest school district in Southern Arizona is hurting financially and fewer students are in its classrooms.

That combination means Sunnyside School District will have to cut its budget by $7 million when the next school year begins in August.

"This year we've lost 400 students, we expected a loss of about 200," Sunnyside School Board President Buck Crouch said. "In the last seven years, we've lost approximately 1,000 students. Our population is aging, it's the demographics of our community, it's the demographics of our state.

The district will cut 140 positions. Classroom teachers are safe but Crouch tells News 4 Tucson some classroom support staff will be on the chopping block. Additional cuts include some of the jobs that are currently vacant.

Rene Ayala has a freshman at Sunnyside high school.

"I worry about losing programs," Ayala said. "I worry about losing good teachers. I've been a student with Sunnyside school district since Kindergarten, so strong ties to this community."

In November, voters failed to pass an override which allows for additional funding in the budget.

Without an overriding passing this fall, future cuts could be more dire.

"This time we were able to keep it away from things like art and music, P.E. programs and sports programs," Crouch said. "I'm afraid next year, we may not be so lucky. I believe education is one of the most important things we can do for our children and I'm not sure everyone in the community believes that."

Crouch said he and the board will work hard this year to convince voters to pass an override in November.

Crouch believes that override would allow Sunnyside to get an added $9 million, keep all its after school programs. and give the district the money to hire a nurse and librarian for every school.

Eric Fink

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