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San Diego Unified has retreated from its original plan to dismiss more than 900 educators to balance its budget and will now notify only 617 educators of pending layoffs.

At today’s school board meeting, Superintendent Terry Grier recommended rescinding layoff notices for 76 counselors, 15 librarians, and 102 high school English teachers — a total of 286 employees. In addition, San Diego Unified also backtracked on 93 additional layoff notices based on corrected and updated employee data and the ruling of an administrative law judge, district spokesman Jack Brandais explained.

The school board voted to finalize the remaining 617 layoff notices Tuesday night, with trustees Luis Acle and Shelia Jackson opposing the measure.

Grier said the rescinded notices would spare all affected counselors, librarians and high school English teachers. He decided that those employees were a priority based on complaints he heard at school sites about cutting librarians from new libraries built under the district’s last facilities bond, Proposition MM, and from students who worried about losing counselors and high school English teachers. The superintendent said counselors play a unique role in reducing dropout rates, “a personal passion” of Grier’s, and that high school English teachers were especially needed to help English language learners in the ninth grade.

“It’s not that other categories [of employees] aren’t important, because goodness knows they are,” Grier said.

Grier’s exemptions are tentatively estimated to cost San Diego Unified $20 million. To pay for the restored positions, Grier said the school district would be scrutinizing its various reserve funds, lobbying Sacramento to reduce cuts, and undergoing “an ongoing continuous process of looking at how we operate” to become a more efficient, less top-heavy school district.

EMILY ALPERT

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