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Bill Could Postpone Final SD Teacher Layoffs

Aired 2/27/12 on KPBS News.

New legislation could push back San Diego schools teacher layoff deadline.

— San Diego school board members will learn Tuesday how many positions next year’s budget deficit could cost certain departments. The board has already approved budget projections that use 1,169 layoffs to close a more than $120 million deficit for next year.

Normally board members would issue notices of possible teachers layoffs March 15 and then issue the actual, final teacher layoffs May 15. Teaching positions account for more than 800 of the proposed cuts.

But a bill introduced late last week by Assemblymember Marty Block (D-San Diego) would let the district negotiate later deadlines with the teachers union.

Proposed layoffs are based on January state budget projections and the May finalization happens before the state’s budget process ends in June. Block believes the economic downturn has made pre-June projections too unreliable for such important decisions.

“Once we’re out of crisis mode then the earlier you can let folks know about the potential of layoffs, the better," he said. "It’s just in this crisis we’ve seen that we’re very bad at predicting when the layoff notices should be sent.”

Th bill is unlikely to pass in time to delay the preliminary notices issued in March, said Bernie Rhinerson, San Diego Unified spokesman, but could save teachers from being laid off in May and recalled once the state budget is finalized in June.

It could also preserve the quality of instruction students get through the end of the school year, according to Block.

“The teachers are stressed, anxious," he said. "As any of us would do they’re looking at other options, future career opportunities instead of necessarily concentrating on teaching. Which is bad for them the teachers, and bad for the kids if it’s just an exercise.”

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