San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten said Tuesday that teacher layoffs for the 2017-2018 school year may drop below 200, down from 952 notices this spring.

The informal announcement came during Marten’s regular report at Tuesday night’s school board meeting. Marten credited “strategic implementation” of the early retirement program for the dramatic 79 percent decrease.

Marten offered no other explanation, and gave no formal presentation to the public or board about the anticipated layoff reductions. District communication staff said this week final layoff numbers are not yet available.

In the spring, a total of 1,128 district employees – including 528 teachers – chose to retire and will receive a year’s salary for doing so, paid out over five years.

At that time, the district estimated teacher layoffs would drop to 467 with the help of the vacancies created by retirements. But Marten’s announcement means teacher layoffs will decrease by hundreds more, surpassing retirees by at least 224 teachers.

Asked where the money will come from to rehire that many teachers the district recently claimed needed to leave the payroll, communications staff said only that the process of “matching up teachers, credentials and open positions” has continued.

The cost difference between a retiring teacher and a newer teacher may mean the district is getting a sort of two-for-one special in some cases, or maybe more accurately a three-for-two special, allowing for the recall of more new teachers who’d received layoff notices than the number of veteran teachers taking retirement deals.

No such explanation was offered by the district, but it could explain the added reductions that presumably are coming at no additional cost.

Marten said layoff reductions for non-teaching employees won’t begin until July 1, although they are unlikely to see such a dramatic decrease below the original 624 layoffs planned, according to communications staff.

Ashly is a freelance investigative reporter. She formerly worked as a staff reporter for Voice of San Diego.

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