Layoff Déjà Vu for This Hard-Hit School

 

The same City Heights school that thought it could lose nearly all of its teachers three years ago is now threatened with losing nearly all of them again.

Fay Elementary, which used to be known as Jackson Elementary at another site, stood to lose 24 out of its 26 teachers when layoffs were threatened three years ago. The Union-Tribune wrote about its plight. It looked like it was going to be hit harder than many other schools because like many disadvantaged schools, it had a newer, younger staff — and the newest teachers are cut first.

Most of the teacher layoffs ended up being canceled. None of the Jackson teachers lost their jobs. But now Fay has an uncomfortable case of déjà vu.

Out of the 27 regular teachers at the school, 25 will get pink slips and another is a temporary teacher who had no guarantee of keeping his job anyway. That means only one teacher is slated to stay at the site. Most of them are the exact same teachers who were faced with losing their jobs last time.

The big numbers were a big surprise. As of Friday, Principal Eileen Moreno had handed out eight pink slips to warn teachers that they could be laid off. But after San Diego Unified ramped up the number of layoff warnings from just shy of 1,100 to more than 1,300, their numbers grew. The cuts are part of a plan to close an estimated $120 million deficit.

Moreno got a text message from a teacher this morning while she was in a special education training and didn’t believe it. “I said, ‘What? No. That’s wrong. Don’t worry about it,’” she remembered. But she didn’t want to take any chances. She left the training right away to check.

The school can only hope the déjà vu continues to the end. Just as they were three years ago, the pink slips are not final. They are just a warning telling teachers that they could be laid off. And even if the layoffs do happen, Fay will still be staffed. Teachers from other schools will make up a new, smaller staff. Moreno is skeptical that the pink slips will all result in layoffs.

But she fears having to start over with a new staff. Fay is already faced with tough odds. Almost all of its students come from families poor enough to get a free or reduced price lunch. The majority are still learning English. Its test scores have slowly grown as teachers collaborate and share ideas.

Schools in poorer neighborhoods tend to be hit harder by layoffs because they often have newer, less experienced teachers. Why? Read our earlier article about teacher turnover in San Diego Unified.

Please share your stories with me about how layoffs and other budget cuts will impact your school. You can send me an email or post your thoughts directly to the blog.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

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Emily Alpert

Emily Alpert
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14 comments
J Cramer
J Cramer subscriber

In LA, the ACLU took up the cause for those most harmed by these policies. Has there been any consideration for those in SDUSD?

parentempower
parentempower

In LA, the ACLU took up the cause for those most harmed by these policies. Has there been any consideration for those in SDUSD?

mlaiuppa
mlaiuppa subscriber

The district pulls this cry wolf stuff every Spring. It's worse this year because we've got so many bean counters wanting a bigger surplus cushion. It's just the way they are. Yet we've still got 9 area superintendents. Their jobs aren't eliminated. Did they get a 3% roll back in salary? 5%? 10%? Did they take any cuts to their pay at all? Let's share a little of the pain, shall we? Because I'm all full up here.

mlaiuppa
mlaiuppa

The district pulls this cry wolf stuff every Spring. It's worse this year because we've got so many bean counters wanting a bigger surplus cushion. It's just the way they are. Yet we've still got 9 area superintendents. Their jobs aren't eliminated. Did they get a 3% roll back in salary? 5%? 10%? Did they take any cuts to their pay at all? Let's share a little of the pain, shall we? Because I'm all full up here.

John de Beck
John de Beck subscriber

The reason that special ed teachers are laid off is that after a few years, many of them apply for and get regular teaching jobs. They use their seniority and their success in special education as a ticket out. That is why getting a teachers job is easier for new teachers if they have special education credentials. The turnover in special education is huge. The reason is both burnout and the fact that it is harder work than regular teaching. Teachers seek job satisfaction just like others do. That is also why you see transfers by regular teachers out of the hard to teach schools. Not all leave, thankfully. because they love their work, but others do. Why else would you go other than to try to find a job that looks like it won't drive you crazy, or cause you to lose your spouse? Seeking green pastures is human.

deBeck
deBeck

The reason that special ed teachers are laid off is that after a few years, many of them apply for and get regular teaching jobs. They use their seniority and their success in special education as a ticket out. That is why getting a teachers job is easier for new teachers if they have special education credentials. The turnover in special education is huge. The reason is both burnout and the fact that it is harder work than regular teaching. Teachers seek job satisfaction just like others do. That is also why you see transfers by regular teachers out of the hard to teach schools. Not all leave, thankfully. because they love their work, but others do. Why else would you go other than to try to find a job that looks like it won't drive you crazy, or cause you to lose your spouse? Seeking green pastures is human.

John de Beck
John de Beck subscriber

there as we dug into reserves to find the money. Sooner or later, and I say sooner, the "conditioned" will find out that they are drooling over nothing. So, find a new teacher and when you kiss her goodbye, tell her how much you and your union cares!!

deBeck
deBeck

there as we dug into reserves to find the money. Sooner or later, and I say sooner, the "conditioned" will find out that they are drooling over nothing. So, find a new teacher and when you kiss her goodbye, tell her how much you and your union cares!!

Bob Sanche
Bob Sanche subscriber

Did anyone notice how many special ed. teachers were pink slipped? All those children with special needs are going back into the general ed. population. Their special needs will not be met because the general ed. teacher is not trained in that area, and under the push in model, there won't be enough special ed teachers to push into the classroom to help these kids. It is really sad.

Jewel
Jewel

Did anyone notice how many special ed. teachers were pink slipped? All those children with special needs are going back into the general ed. population. Their special needs will not be met because the general ed. teacher is not trained in that area, and under the push in model, there won't be enough special ed teachers to push into the classroom to help these kids. It is really sad.

John H Borja
John H Borja subscriber

...extremely poor planning on the part of the District. Do this once, and that is unfortunate. Do it another two times and no wonder people are throwing spears at teachers. The District is throwing teachers AND children under the bus by not correcting an obvious inequity, both for teachers as for the kids. Horrible. Numbers...what a joke.

kidscoach
kidscoach

...extremely poor planning on the part of the District. Do this once, and that is unfortunate. Do it another two times and no wonder people are throwing spears at teachers. The District is throwing teachers AND children under the bus by not correcting an obvious inequity, both for teachers as for the kids. Horrible. Numbers...what a joke.

John de Beck
John de Beck subscriber

about their members JOBS. Instead, union leaders thirst over cuts in central administration that will DISPLACE their own members when they exercise the right to return to classrooms. They play on the jealousy of their members about people who have risen from the classroom to administation roles knowing full well that these former teachers will replace less senior UNION members. The union really cares more about itself than keeping jobs for its young members. That attitude will come back to haunt them. Meanwhile the union lives, sacrificing low paid members jobs for pay raises in 2013. I would have a hard time looking in the mirror if I was a union leader who abandoned its youngest members.

deBeck
deBeck

about their members JOBS. Instead, union leaders thirst over cuts in central administration that will DISPLACE their own members when they exercise the right to return to classrooms. They play on the jealousy of their members about people who have risen from the classroom to administation roles knowing full well that these former teachers will replace less senior UNION members. The union really cares more about itself than keeping jobs for its young members. That attitude will come back to haunt them. Meanwhile the union lives, sacrificing low paid members jobs for pay raises in 2013. I would have a hard time looking in the mirror if I was a union leader who abandoned its youngest members.