The fuzzy math of teacher layoffs

The California state budget has absolutely whipsawed public employees for the past two years, none more so than teachers.

For example, the Sacramento City Unified School District has been facing a $22 million budget gap—culminating in nearly 400 pink slips for teachers and counselors this year.

This was always assumed to be the “worst case” budget. But with Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revised budget—and right on the heels of days of demonstrations by teachers at the state Capitol—it looks like the worst case may not come to pass.

Thanks to better than projected revenue flowing in after Tax Day, the Governor’s budget restores about $3 billion in education funds.

That’s a long way from having a budget deal, but that could mean a bit of a reprieve for local schools. Members of the SCUSD Board of Education will hear a report on the fluid budget situation this Thursday.

David Sanchez, president of the California Teachers Association, said following release of the governor’s updated budget that “the additional funding to K-12 schools should allow local districts to maintain current funding levels and rescind some planned program cuts and layoffs.”

Some. And we’re by no means out of the woods, kids, no matter what Bob Dutton or Connie Conway tells you.

Indeed, 81 percent of parents in the Sac City District—according to a poll released by SCUSD Superintendent Jonathan Raymond last week—support extending current taxes to provide some stability for education funding.

Stability is the key word. Consider the protracted, torturous, flat-out stupid process of laying off California teachers. Because of state law, teachers first get preliminary pinks slips in March, long before anybody really knows what the state budget will look like. Districts always notify way more teachers than they will really let go, just to be on the safe side.

Then, just before the May revise is released, teachers get final notices that they won’t be returning. Even though, again, the budget is far from final. Hell of a way to end your school year.

But many of those layoff notices will be rescinded, too, in July and August, as the budget picture gets clearer. Last year, the district gave out a whopping 243 pink slips to teachers and counselors. By the first day of school, all but 64 had returned to the classroom. There’s got to be a better way.

Compiled from Snog.