I nearly spit out my orange juice this morning when I read that California schools might still be able to lay off teachers — even if they did not warn them of layoffs earlier this year as is typically required under the law. The Sacramento Bee reports:
An obscure entry in the state education code allows a second round of layoffs. But the criteria are strict. Five days after legislators adopt a state budget, the window for issuing pink slips opens again, and stays open until Aug. 15 — but only if revenue for average daily attendance doesn’t increase by 2 percent.
The window has only opened twice since the provision was created in 1983, according to the article, and legislators suspended the code in 2002 when it almost opened again. It is rare because the budget is usually late when revenues fall low enough to start the process.
This news is a shocker because I’ve heard over and over from San Diego Unified that the window for laying off teachers is done. Closed. Finito. The school board has pledged to steer clear of teacher layoffs and is relying on a balancing act between the golden handshake and program cuts to thin its workforce instead. It has also avoided furloughs, to the applause of workers.
But new revisions to the budget, released yesterday by the governor, and the expected failure of propositions at the ballot box next week, could worsen the deficit in San Diego Unified and other local districts. Check back for updates later when I catch up with the budget and staffing gurus and the school board about the idea of August layoffs.