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San Diego Unified will weigh whether to eliminate more than 275 jobs for teachers and other educators in their first two years at the district tomorrow.

The decision will pit board members who fear the financial problems facing San Diego Unified will necessitate layoffs against those who say the crisis can be handled without cutting teachers. The school district is now relying on a buyout to thin the ranks of its employees, balancing their exits with program cuts that mean fewer jobs for the remaining workers.

“I don’t have any intention of voting for teacher layoffs,” said school board member John Lee Evans. “I know there’s a lot of pressure to do that, but we’re still looking at a lot of other areas to cut.”

Though the school district has steered clear of layoffs for most teachers, a quirk in the San Diego Unified teachers contract allows the school district more time to warn beginning teachers of a possible layoff. Schools in California cannot lay off teachers if they do not send them a warning first — a phenomenon that often encourages school districts to err on the side of warning too many teachers of layoffs and canceling the layoffs as they come up with other ways to save money. Most teachers must be warned of a layoff by March 15; teachers in their first two years at San Diego Unified must be warned by Wednesday.

The proposal before the San Diego Unified board would issue warnings that more than 275 positions could be cut, including more than 50 positions teaching English, nearly 40 positions in counseling and more than 30 jobs in nursing. The actual number of people affected may be far higher than the number of jobs cut because a part-time job is counted as only a fraction of a position.

EMILY ALPERT

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