As many as 29 teachers may lose their jobs in the Encinitas Union School District to make up for budget shortfalls after the Board of Trustees voted 4-1 to formally issue layoff notices during its May 8 meeting. In addition to the certificated teachers who are being laid off, the district is also losing 16 child guidance aides.
The vote came after several parents and teachers pleaded with the board to find other ways of fixing the budget. Parents pitched ideas that ranged from creating an emergency fund so the community could donate, to moving district headquarters to Ocean Knoll so the current building could be leased and create some revenue. Teachers will likely be taking two furlough days to help save money, and some parents suggested district administrators also take a pay cut.
After hearing from the community, board member Mo Muir said she felt the district “hasn’t done enough” to cut back spending and could not support any motion to layoff teachers, voting as the one opposed to the motion. The rest of the board members said while they certainly did not like the idea of making these cuts, they felt obligated to do it as a precautionary step. That’s because state law requires the district to issue pink slip warnings by May 15, otherwise they have to hire those teachers next school year. However, the district won’t know how many teachers it can afford until after that May 15 deadline, when the state finally reveals its updated budget. They said the hope that some of those pink slip notices will be rescinded once the budget is finalized.
“I’m making this decision for tonight. I’m not making this decision for next August,” explained board president Emily Andrade.
“No one want to do what we have to do tonight. But if we don’t do it, we put the district at risk,” added board member Marla Strich.
Along with the teacher layoffs, class sizes in kindergarten through third grade are set to go up next school year; while the current ratio is 23 to 1, it could go up to 24 or 27 when the district adopts a budget for 2012-’13 in June.
EUSD is a basic-aid district, funded through property taxes. There is about $38 million in annual revenues in the general fund. But tax revenues are down, and the state has enacted a “fair share” cut, in which it takes back money from basic-aid districts to achieve parity with revenue-limit districts, whose funding is calculated per pupil.
The district is slated to lose about $3 million through the fair share cut in the 2011-2012 school year, with $5 million projected for 2012-'13. The 24-to-1 class sizes would save more than $416,000, and 27-to-1 would save a little more than $1 million. All nine district schools are slated to have their budgets cut (for a total of roughly $285,000), as will district departments (about $635,000). All the cuts combined would save about $1.3 million (at the 24-to-1 ratio) or about $2 million (at 27-to-1).
their concern about the layoffs and increased class sizes, which would impact other areas beside the classroom. For instance, parents at some schools have noted that if they don’t have funding for librarians, they would have to close their campuses’ media centers. District board members and Supt. Baird have urged the parents to lobby state officials for changes in education funding. A group of local parents has started a website, Speak UP for Students, to help them get involved.
The teachers who will be getting pink slip notices include ten temporary teachers, three probationary teachers and 16 tenured teachers. Layoffs are based on seniority.
Wednesday night many parents asked if the would help fill the budget gap, but Supt. Tim Baird said that deal hasn’t gone into escrow yet and therefore can’t be counted on.