Layoffs expected for 14,000 state teachers

March 14, 2008 7:21:22 PM PDT
The state's proposed cuts to the education budget means that teachers in the Bay Area and around the state should be getting their certified notices by Saturday that they could be laid off in a couple of months. In the Bay Area, some 1,700 teachers have received pink slips notifying them they could be out of work at the end of the school year. Statewide, the layoff number is hovering around 14,000.

Students at Leonard Flynn Elementary in San Francisco presented a new mural Friday dedicated to social justice. In fact this week, students these students have learned a lot about issues that will soon affect them.

"And then they said, 'no nos quiten el dinero -- don't take our money away,'" says teacher Erin Bolick as she describes one of the posters made by students criticizing the governor's proposed budget cuts in education.

Bolick is expecting a pink slip from the school district.

"I know that I am a good teacher and it makes me sad and angry that again -- time and time again -- the effects are on our students," says Bolick.

By law, the district must notify teachers by May 15 via certified mail. Each letter costs the district $5.50. With 535 layoff notices, that's nearly $3,000 for San Francisco alone.

Newer teachers are the first to go. That's why some schools are disproportionately affected.

Ten of the 31 teachers at Leonard Flynn Elementary have or will receive pink slips. That's one-third. The school won't close, but it will get harder for those teachers who remain.

"So it will mean that those schools will stay open, but they might have larger class sizes and they would have different teachers," says Gentle Blythe with the San Francisco Unified School District.

Lisa Guzman is preparing herself to take on more work.

"First of all, morale, because some of our colleagues will be gone. But also, extra responsibilities all around the school, and specifically at our school, we are going to have to do some major juggling around of staff," says Guzman.

For San Francisco Unified, the proposed budget cuts add up to $40 million. However, the city has vowed to give schools $30 million from its rainy day fund.

"Our plan though, is if we can in fact have all of that $30 million at our disposal, that we'd like to see it spread over two years," says Blythe.

If the district only uses half, that still leaves it with a possible deficit of $25 million for next year. The only way to cut that much is to cut personnel.