District to Union: Help Us Change Teacher Layoff Law

 

The San Diego Unified School District hasn’t wasted any time taking up the teachers union’s offer to work on changing the state’s budget system.

The union made the call to the district at a press conference Wednesday. Union officials said the state’s budget process harms schools and teachers, since it requires districts to issue hundreds of layoff notices to employees by March 15, months before they know what the state’s budget will actually look like.

That system causes unnecessary emotional pain and suffering to teachers, union officials said. The district should use its clout to start changing it, said San Diego Education Association Vice President Camille Zombro.

“Great things happen when committed people decide they’re going to do it,” she said. “Absolutely, we could change things. Absolutely we could change the law.”

In response, Superintendent Bill Kowba and School Board President John Lee Evans sent a letter today to San Diego Education Association President Bill Freeman. The letter thanks Freeman for reaching out to the district and suggests a way forward:

[W]e can work together, as you suggest, to change the state law so that the preliminary layoff notification deadline is moved from March 15 to June 15, and the final layoff notification deadline is moved from May 15 to August 15.

The interesting thing here is that the March 15 deadline has been largely supported by teachers unions in the past. An attempt to change the law in 2009 was opposed by the California Teachers Association, of which the SDEA is a local chapter.

The law, which was enacted 80 years ago, was supposed to give teachers a few months’ warning to plan ahead for possibly being laid off. But in recent years, the March 15 rule has served to torment teachers, since hundreds of employees have gotten pink slips, but only a small portion of those have actually ended up getting laid off once the state’s budget was finalized.

The teachers union essentially has two options here.

It can turn down the district’s offer and leave the March 15 deadline in place. That means teachers would continue to have a “buffer zone” between getting layoff notices and actually getting laid off. That would kill any momentum that could come from a joint effort by the district and union to reform the state’s budget system.

Or, it can press ahead arm-in-arm with the district and help campaign to change the rule it has said causes so much stress to teachers.

There’s been no response from the SDEA on this yet.

Of course, San Diego Unified and the SDEA are just one school district and one union in a large state. They would have to build broad consensus to get the state law changed. But Evans said he’s confident the district can do that.

“We’re the second-biggest school district in the state. We would have to get other large districts on board, but is the first step in doing that,” he said.

Evans also drafted a letter to state legislators that would be signed by Freeman and Evans. The letter urges legislators to enact emergency legislation that would amend the state’s Education Code to change the layoff deadline.

Will Carless is an investigative reporter at voiceofsandiego.org currently focused on local education. You can reach him at will.carless@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5670.

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Will Carless

Will Carless

Will Carless is the former head of investigations at Voice of San Diego. He currently lives in Montevideo, Uruguay, where he is a freelance foreign correspondent and occasional contributor to VOSD. You can reach him at will.carless.work@gmail.com.

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23 comments
mlaiuppa
mlaiuppa subscriber

No one seems to understand that if the district offices were empty, the school offices were empty, no secretaries, no administrators, no custodians, (no school board) that children would still learn as long as the teachers were there. But when there are no teachers, you no longer have a school. Putting children first is putting teachers first too. Even without the white boards, the technology, even paper and pencils, learning will still happen. But without the teachers? Yeah, good luck with that.

mlaiuppa
mlaiuppa

No one seems to understand that if the district offices were empty, the school offices were empty, no secretaries, no administrators, no custodians, (no school board) that children would still learn as long as the teachers were there. But when there are no teachers, you no longer have a school. Putting children first is putting teachers first too. Even without the white boards, the technology, even paper and pencils, learning will still happen. But without the teachers? Yeah, good luck with that.

John de Beck
John de Beck subscriber

I still say that a NEGOTIATED pay reduction that involves vouchers for the lost pay ...guaranteed from any NEW funds (from any source) to all employees ...in exchange for no LAYOFFS ... would be best for everyone. Had that idea been acceptable WHEN I FIRST PROPOSED IT, the percentages of cuts would be far less now. In the great depression (1930's) this actually happened, and those in the public wishing to support teachers just paid them for the vouchers...some at face value, so the teachers didn't suffer so much. No wonder that teaching THEN was cosidered an important and SECURE job (NOT UNIONIZED EITHER). I still don't like the idea of sacrificing the next generation of new teachers for a pay raise for those with higher seniority. They won't EVER forget the union which abandoned them!

deBeck
deBeck

I still say that a NEGOTIATED pay reduction that involves vouchers for the lost pay ...guaranteed from any NEW funds (from any source) to all employees ...in exchange for no LAYOFFS ... would be best for everyone. Had that idea been acceptable WHEN I FIRST PROPOSED IT, the percentages of cuts would be far less now. In the great depression (1930's) this actually happened, and those in the public wishing to support teachers just paid them for the vouchers...some at face value, so the teachers didn't suffer so much. No wonder that teaching THEN was cosidered an important and SECURE job (NOT UNIONIZED EITHER). I still don't like the idea of sacrificing the next generation of new teachers for a pay raise for those with higher seniority. They won't EVER forget the union which abandoned them!

John de Beck
John de Beck subscriber

EVERY ACT HAS UNFORSEEN CONSEQUENCES, and I think March 15 notices were well thought out. The problem isn't the notices, it's the budget decisons that have been made in Sacramento for the past few years and the ad hoc actions of our local education leaders. It may be time for a new board and a new union!

deBeck
deBeck

EVERY ACT HAS UNFORSEEN CONSEQUENCES, and I think March 15 notices were well thought out. The problem isn't the notices, it's the budget decisons that have been made in Sacramento for the past few years and the ad hoc actions of our local education leaders. It may be time for a new board and a new union!

George Holbrook
George Holbrook subscriber

Again, commenters above may have stable employment and tenure in whatever jobs they hold, but the teachers that are vulnerable to layoff in these troubled times need 6 to 9 months notice that their jobs are at risk to start the job search process. I detect a real disconnect with reality here.

geoh808
geoh808

Again, commenters above may have stable employment and tenure in whatever jobs they hold, but the teachers that are vulnerable to layoff in these troubled times need 6 to 9 months notice that their jobs are at risk to start the job search process. I detect a real disconnect with reality here.

mlaiuppa
mlaiuppa subscriber

Oh, and if the district is asking me to help them it better not turn right around and cut my pay 6% and extend the furlough days for five more years as a show of appreciation for all my hard work.

mlaiuppa
mlaiuppa

Oh, and if the district is asking me to help them it better not turn right around and cut my pay 6% and extend the furlough days for five more years as a show of appreciation for all my hard work.

ScrippsDad
ScrippsDad subscriber

Regardless - let's be real and recognize that there is virtually no likelihood (although I do hold out hope) that this will happen by March 15 this year, when, once again, per LAW, not District or SDEA desire, pink slips must be delivered.

ScrippsDad
ScrippsDad

Regardless - let's be real and recognize that there is virtually no likelihood (although I do hold out hope) that this will happen by March 15 this year, when, once again, per LAW, not District or SDEA desire, pink slips must be delivered.

Matt Kocik
Matt Kocik subscriber

not just moving when the District can lay people off. that is a step in the right direction, but I fear it is not enough.

mattK
mattK

not just moving when the District can lay people off. that is a step in the right direction, but I fear it is not enough.

PerroGrande
PerroGrande

Getting the dates changed is a no brainer. Should have been done years ago. I hope both sides (and the rest of the state) get's behind this. The flipside is, can you really get California's legislature to change a law in just over a month?

Mark Giffin
Mark Giffin subscribermember

Loosening the ropes on the pig is a start

mgland
mgland

Loosening the ropes on the pig is a start

Scott Barnett
Scott Barnett subscriber

Moving this deadline from March 15 to summer will do so much to reduce the terrible stress on our certificated staff of teachers, counselors and nurses. Thanks to President John Lee Evans and Sup. Kowba for jumping on this historic opportunity.

Scott Barnett SD School Board
Scott Barnett SD School Board

Moving this deadline from March 15 to summer will do so much to reduce the terrible stress on our certificated staff of teachers, counselors and nurses. Thanks to President John Lee Evans and Sup. Kowba for jumping on this historic opportunity.

Rick Froehbrodt
Rick Froehbrodt subscriber

I think this is a good idea. There is a great deal of energy and emotion, much of it misdirected at both the district and the union, surrounding the March 15 deadline. Moving it to bring it into line with the actual budgeting would save a lot of grief.

A teacher
A teacher

I think this is a good idea. There is a great deal of energy and emotion, much of it misdirected at both the district and the union, surrounding the March 15 deadline. Moving it to bring it into line with the actual budgeting would save a lot of grief.

dana deima
dana deima subscriber

I love the photo here.