It is a tug of war, with teachers in the balance. The financial chiefs at San Diego Unified argue that the school district needs to warn more than 900 teachers, counselors and other educators of possible layoffs in order to balance its budget. The teachers union argues it doesn’t need to send so many pink slips.

I wrote Wednesday about why the union says the school district just doesn’t need to lay off so many educators. It boils down to three arguments:

  • That San Diego Unified has underestimated its enrollment;
  • That it isn’t counting employees who will retire whose jobs can be cut;
  • And that it isn’t including temporary teachers, who can be let go without a layoff because they aren’t assured a job next year.

Last night I got a point-by-point counterargument from the school district. Here are its basic points:

  • San Diego Unified can’t count on attrition to plan how many people it should lay off.
  • Many temporary teachers were upgraded to regular employees — and are therefore already included in the layoff numbers, the school district says.
  • And it defended its enrollment predictions as accurate.

This debate is going to continue to roil in the hours leading up to the school board meeting tonight. The San Diego Unified board needs to decide whether to warn more than 900 teachers and other educators of layoffs. It faces an estimated $120 million deficit. Staffers have urged them to send out the warnings; if they don’t they could lose the ability to lay teachers off, limiting their options to balance the budget.

But school board members have been skeptical of the need to send out layoff warnings, raising many of the same questions the teachers union did. The deficit could drop dramatically if voters approve tax extensions proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, reducing the need for layoffs. And the school board has eyed a quirk in the law that could let the school district opt to lay off teachers as late as August.

Dying to find out what happens? The meeting starts at 5 p.m. Follow me on Twitter tonight for live updates. I’ll be blogging as well.

Please contact Emily Alpert directly at emily.alpert@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5665 and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/emilyschoolsyou.

Emily Alpert

Emily Alpert was formerly the education reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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