Teacher layoffs loom in CUSD

A year in the red will likely spell pink slips in the Chico Unified School District, trustees heard at their Dec. 19 meeting.

“There’s a high likelihood that, this spring, we’ll have to do a workforce reduction through the layoff process with our certificated staff,” said Jim Sands, the CUSD’s deputy superintendent, as district officials anticipated $2.7 million in cuts over the next two years needed to balance the budget.

“Certificated staff” means teachers, who came away from bitter contract negotiations last year with a raise, but CUSD officials warned at the time that it would come at the expense of people and programs later on. Meanwhile, enrollment has dropped and the state budget took a nosedive.

Sands said a “seniority list” will soon be circulated among teachers, who can check where the district believes they stand in terms of when they were hired and what credentials and degrees they hold. The school board is legally required to decide if it will lay off certificated workers next school year in time to notify them by March 15, 2002.

And Gov. Gray Davis isn’t being much help: He’s expected to propose cuts that will cost the CUSD from $666,000 to $824,000 this year. Also, the cost-of-living adjustment, which had been projected at 3.3 percent, may drop as low as 2.2 percent, leaving the CUSD out of another $685,000 in revenue.

As part of the 2001-02 first interim budget report, the CUSD’s business manager, Randy Meeker, said this year would see $6 million in deficit spending, made up only by the grace of a carryover from last year.

He said that, since 87 percent of the district’s unrestricted budget is linked to personnel costs, there’s really little room to cut other than get rid of people.

In dollars, the needed cuts—not even counting what Davis may do—translate to a little over $1 million in 2002-03 and another $1.7 million in 2003-04, Meeker said. In people, it translates to a couple of dozen teachers.