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Teacher layoffs have dominated the debate thus far between school board candidates Mitz Lee and John Lee Evans. Lee, the incumbent, says layoff warnings were necessary to balance the nearly $80 million budget cut the school board was then facing. Evans questioned the planned layoffs, pointing to other California districts that avoided sending layoff warnings.
Now that San Diego Unified has cancelled more than 600 layoffs, I was curious whether Evans’ campaign would shift away from the layoff issue. Not all layoffs are off the table: Hundreds of classified employees are still at risk, as are more than 200 probationary teachers. But the outcry has been reduced. After months of protest rallies outside the school board, Tuesday’s meeting was relatively quiet.
Evans said that doesn’t change his message.
“Their decision to put the teachers through this in the first place is still an issue,” Evans said.
“I felt they could come up with better solutions, and the result of the layoff notices was pitting the board and the teachers against each other, rather than uniting them during this crisis,” he added.
The upcoming Tuesday primary is something of a nonevent for Lee and Evans, who will both proceed to the November general election because only two candidates are competing. School board candidates can’t win in the primary (with the exception of Richard Barrera, who has essentially already won).