Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 1:06 pm | Fair 60º


Santa Barbara School Board Approves Layoff Notices, Considers Furloughs and Bigger Classes

District officials say only drastic cuts remain as options for closing a $5.8 million budget deficit for 2012-13

To work toward closing the $5.8 million gap in the 2012-13 budget, the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education voted Tuesday night to give layoff notices to 60 certified teachers and all 64 of the district’s temporary teachers.

Meg Jette, assistant superintendent of business, said only drastic cuts remain to settle accounts, and the board is left with making dozens of layoffs or negotiating nine furlough days with the district’s labor groups.

Layoff notices must be issued by March 15 each year, and the district issued 300 of them last year, only to rescind most by the time school started. While nothing is final this early in the year, most of the notices are expected to become permanent and the board will have to affirm the layoff statuses in May, according to Superintendent Dave Cash.

Since there are 22 elementary school teachers and 10 English/theater teachers included in the layoff notices, he said there most likely will be larger K-3 and ninth-grade English class sizes by default.

Other positions included were one computer typing position, five math positions, five social science positions, five biology/geoscience positions, two health positions, six physical education positions and four child development positions.

Seniority of teachers is taken into account except in a few areas where their unique qualifications make them safe from layoffs — at least this year, personnel coordinator Ann Peak said. Harding University Partnership School’s bid for international baccalaureate credentials requires a stable, specifically trained staff so its teachers are safe this year, she said. The same goes for the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy’s teacher program specialists — because of their pre-education engineering backgrounds — and special-education adaptive P.E. teachers, to name a few.

Last year, the Santa Barbara Teachers Association was able to bargain in good faith and come up with a flexible furlough agreement that let most teachers with pink slips be rehired, SBTA President Layne Wheeler reminded the board during public comment Tuesday night. He urged the community to pass the governor’s tax measure in November and the district’s proposed parcel tax measure in June, which would help fund math, science, technology and arts classes.

While considering the $5.8 million deficit, the school board considered increasing class sizes, cutting school-specific funding and other proposals, but didn’t vote on any of them specifically at Tuesday night’s meeting. Upset as ever over the predicament they face, the board members asked staff to negotiate furloughs if possible, so fewer teachers would lose their jobs, and bring back more details about each proposal.

As Cash said in a Jan. 23 news conference, “everything has to be on the table; we can’t dismiss an option because it’s distasteful.”

The proposals put forward by the business office for the board to consider are:

» Eliminating 16 classified positions through retirements, probationary or resignations that will remain vacant. The board could eliminate classified positions only in those circumstances, since last year’s unification of the elementary and secondary districts came with the caveat that no classified staff member can be laid off for two years.

» The district office could reduce the use of consultants, which puts more work on central administrative staff.

» Hire a head nurse, which the district has been trying to do for months, and lay off the contracted nurses.

» Cut 20 percent of Tier III funding, which cuts into school-specific funds from which principals and their staffs make decisions about programs.

» Increase freshman English class sizes, which would save about $274,000 by moving from a 25-to-1 ratio to an average of 30-to-1.

» Increase kindergarten, first-, second- and third-grade class sizes from 25-to-1 ratios. The proposal, which is never a popular one with the school board or among parents, says the district would save $566,000 with classes of 30 and about $1.3 million with classes of 32, even with the state financial penalties for being over 25-to-1. With 30 children in a classroom, the district would need 10 fewer teachers, which saves $867,000, while the penalties are $300,000, Jette explained.

» Nine furlough days for staff members, which needs to be negotiated with labor groups and would save the district $4.285 million.

» Reduce certificated staff by 70 full-time positions, which was approved by the board Tuesday with the authorization of layoff notices.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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