Faced with a budget cut from the state of $9 Million, the Santa Clara Unified School Board voted unanimously to layoff 18 teachers at a special Board meeting held on Monday night, March 14. The layoffs will affect six Counselors, six librarians, two music teachers, four english teachers and two math teachers. The original staff report with the layoff recommendations did not include the english or math teachers, but instead three nurses. The nurses were removed from facing possible layoff action because of special education requirements. A special meeting was required because labor agreements require the District to notify affected certificated employees (teachers) by March 15. May 15 is a day the notices can be revised and under catastrophic conditions, the District can implement layoffs on August 15.
According to Superintendent, Steve Stavis, “On March 4, the State let the basic aid districts know they would be required to cut additional money from the budget. That amount is $9 million and it is not negotiable. No one can stand before the legislature and say ‘it can’t be us.” The District is also facing a 4.02% reduction in property tax base. The District is currently $13 million in the hole. The bottom line is we need to make $9 million in cuts.”
As an example of the tough choices the district faces in deciding what programs or positions to cut, the Independence Network, which serves developmentally disabled kids and adults, saw its funding cut at the March 10 Board Meeting. Stavis added, “The Independence Network serves kids and adults from 18 to 60 years old. The SCUSD is a model for the program, but on Thursday, I had to sit here and look at the kids and parents. These are heartbreaking times. There are districts in the state that are entering into receivership because they are bankrupt. This is gut wrenching.”
When asked how the layoffs would work, Assistant Superintendent Brad Syth explained, “Layoffs will be determined by seniority or by the number of credentials. Someone with more seniority could bump someone with less seniority. Anyone not receiving a notice on March 15 will have a job next year.”
At the special meeting, it was disclosed that a representative of the teachers’ union had said the union would work with the Board on certificated employees. This drew a round of boos from the audience as the teachers’ union does not protect librarians, several of whom have their positions on the chopping block.
At the March 10 School Board Meeting, Board President Andy Ratermann suggested either a school closure or a cut in pay across the board might be appropriate. According to Ratermann, “one furlough day is equal to a savings of about $500,000. A one percent (1%) cut in pay, across the board, is equal to $1 million, so an 8% pay cut would equate to a savings of 8% which should prevent the district from having any layoffs.”