The San Diego Unified School District voted Thursday night to lay off 1,500 district employees, including 24 La Jolla educators. District staff determined the layoffs would be necessary to resolve an estimated $120 million budget shortfall for the next school year.
Board members Richard Barrera, John Lee Evans and Shelia Jackson voted in favor of the proposed budget, which included personnel cuts. Board members Kevin Beiser and Scott Barnett voted against the budget and associated cuts.
By law, the district is required to submit a balanced budget to the county and notify permanent certified employees of potential layoffs by March 15, and probationary certified staff by April 15. Without taking a vote by this deadline, the district was at risk for the county superintendent to withhold funding, a downgrading of its credit rating and cash-flow deterioration. It also would not be able to make payroll by the start of next school year.
“I think we surrender our ability to meaningfully participate in this system for the next three months if we do not take actions tonight,” said board president Richard Barrera. “I can not do that.”
The district has been challanged to find ways to cut $120 million because approximately 91 percent of budget expenses are dedicated to staff salary and benefits.
“I think we have challenges in both the near term and the long term for solvency,” said Superintendent Bill Kowba.
A total of 920 certificated positions, including 495 elementary teachers, 229 middle, high or alternative teachers, 13 librarians, 59 counselors, 42 nurses and five psychologists will receive pink-slip notification by certified mail over the next few days. An additional 500 classified positions such as janitors and bus drivers will also be cut to balance the budget.
After three and a half hours and nearly 1,500 positions eliminated, the school board approved a preliminary budget that will require Superintendent Kowba to find an additional $4 million in administrative cuts.
Hundreds of educators including counselors, nurses and librarians attended the highly charged school board meeting. Many spoke out against cuts at the microphone or outside of the administration building both before and after the meeting.
Bill Freeman, president of the San Diego Education Association, urged the board to take a risk and not approve position cuts.
“We have worked well with the district this year and we hope to continue to work with the district. But we will not stand for our students to be put in classrooms and not given the attention they need to succeed in life. We will not tolerate them to be packed into classrooms like sardines. That is just not fair to them. We will not stand for them not have nurses, counselors or librarians,” Freeman said, adding that “education for our students is not just our right, it is our responsibility.”
A final budget for the 2011-12 school year needs to be approved by June 30.Position Cuts in La Jolla
Number of Position Cuts
Bird Rock Elementary School
La Jolla Elementary School
La Jolla High School
Muirlands Middle School
Torrey Pines Elementary School