The California Teachers Association estimates the number of layoff notices handed out to public school teachers this week could be as low as 2,600 statewide. That's down 87 percent from the 20,000 pink slips issued last year.
The other union, the California Federation of Teachers, can't believe the notices are going out at all, given the higher taxes approved by voters under Proposition 30 last year were supposed to save schools from more budget cuts.
"For school districts now to be issuing layoff notices really violates the spirit in which Proposition 30 was promoted to the voters," said Joshua Pechthalt, the California Federation of Teachers president.
Third grade teacher Megan Kashing got one of those pink slips again. She thought she was safe this year considering her district now has a 31-percent reserve. "I don't understand why our district doesn't see that the budgetary pie is expanding, and this should have resulted in a change in their actions. However, they're still acting as if the sky is still falling," she said.
Capitol Advisors President Kevin Gordon says Prop 30 only prevents further cuts to schools. It doesn't give them any more money. Plus, it's still unclear how hard the federal government's sequestration cuts will hurt districts or even if Governor Brown's plan to shake up school financing will win legislative approval. "Districts don't have a choice. In law, there's a statutory requirement on March 15 you have to do these layoffs, and if you don't, you're not going to have that opportunity later in the school year," he said.
Since most layoff notices are rescinded weeks later when the state budget picture is clearer, one state senator wants to save everyone the heartache and move the layoff deadline to June 1 in an effort to prevent good teachers from leaving. "They'll go off and just find another job or they'll go out and leave the district if they can find something else," said Republican Senator and minority leader Bob Huff.
The California Federation of Teachers is calling on school districts with large reserves to use that money to prevent the layoffs.