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San Diego Unified Agrees To Negotiate With Unions Before Voting On More Layoffs

Educators hold signs that read "Protect San Diego Students" and "What's the Plan?" at the San Diego Unified Board of Education meeting, April 25, 2017.
Megan Burks
Educators hold signs that read "Protect San Diego Students" and "What's the Plan?" at the San Diego Unified Board of Education meeting, April 25, 2017.
San Diego Unified Agrees To Negotiate With Unions Before Voting On More Layoffs
San Diego Unified Agrees To Negotiate With Unions Before Voting On More Layoffs GUEST:Megan Burks, education reporter, KPBS news

Eight unified school board meeting got off to a start with disruptions from demonstrators. In the end, trustees postponed a plan to send out an additional 200 pink slip's to an array of school workers including library workers and bus drivers. KPBS education reporter joins us now. What were the disruptions at the beginning of the school board meeting? There were people speaking out against a new Islamophobia plan at the district. This was rolled out after there was a survey showing that a lot of Muslim students had been bullied as a result of their religion. The Tribune pattern argue -- had an article a week or two ago and partners acted up. That caught the attention of some people. They were calling the district to complain about the plant and they showed up at the meeting. There were also people there who wanted to speak out about an agenda item that would basically -- the board wanted to show support for Bill in the state legislature that would boy cat companies that do business on the border wall one seconds going. Those people were basically saying that for one, this was political they also said they need a border wall to prevent crime. We heard from Jeff walk. There it is top story, guess where seven Mexican citizens were. Guess where they crossed, right where the 15 mile border double fence ends. That is where Trump is going to build the next part of the wall. We will Circuit Court -- secured this border. We're taking it back. [ Applause ] in the end, the school board did approve the resolution that supported the state. That is right. On to the crux of the meeting, that was concerning plans to lay off 200 more workers. That would severely impact libraries. Why are they the target? The classified employees originally did not have these cuts in February. The district is saying that they need to go ahead and make the additional cuts because their employee union has not of -- agreed to a reduced work year. In low that they say they have to cut employees. It wasn't just the librarians. We had a story yesterday about the librarians because it would really hurt the library system. There would be nobody staffing libraries in middle school and high school. There have already been tons of pink slips sent out. Maintenance workers, bus drivers and mental health clinicians would also be affected. Did the people who might be getting laid off have a chance to speak? Yes. We heard from dozens of employees. We heard a lot from mental health clinicians. They said they're department with the 20 clinicians laid off and that would boost their caseload of to 62 students per worker. These are kids who are suicidal often. They are saying that these are kids who want to harm themselves or other people. They were really saying, with our crucial. You have to keep us. The district is facing $124 million in deficit. Water officials saying about how it found itself in the red? They are saying they have increasing pension costs and the state is not funding them to the level that it should be. Funding has been tight and slow from the state. They did get more money from the state this year, but it is the pension costs. Last night the board members did kind of say we need to write side art this -- right size our district to keep pace with lowering enrollment in revenues. They said yes, we should have been doing this and we need to do it now. The school board trustees did not go forward as we said with the additional 200 cuts. What is the next move? They will head back to the bargaining table and try to work out solutions. They have until May 11. The district, the reason they pushed through these 200 pink slip's, or tried to, was because they needed give a 60 day notice to employees. They are going to give themselves a couple more weeks to try to negotiate something different. If those negations are not fruitful these could come back. Megan, thank you. Thank you, Maureen.

San Diego Unified Agrees To Negotiate With Unions Before Voting On More Layoffs
The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday postponed adding 190 employees to a list of 1,500 who have received layoff notices.

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education Tuesday postponed adding 190 employees to a list of 1,500 who have received layoff notices, instead agreeing to negotiate further with the unions of the affected employees.

RELATED: New Round Of Layoffs May All But Decimate San Diego School Libraries

The proposal comes as district officials seek to eliminate a $124 million budget shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.

"We've got a long and strong track record in this district of solving problems together, and that includes negotiation," Board President Richard Barrera said. "The negotiations can be tough at times, but they can also identify solutions that we would not have identified had we not worked together and negotiated."

Those to be added to the list of employees receiving layoffs included more than 40 library technicians, 23 mental health workers and 65 bus drivers, along with other support staff.

They came out in force to the meeting to defend their jobs. Mental health clinicians said the cuts to their department would result in those remaining have caseloads as large at 62 students each. They said they often work with students who talk about harming themselves or others, and are responsible for crisis management at some 200 schools.

Notices have been served on teachers, tech support staff, special education assistants and others.

The district has also proposed cutting the work year by between 11 and 14 days for classified and administrative employees, depending on their schedules. Those cuts will be weighed again in ongoing union negotiations. The board has set a May 11 deadline to find alternative solutions or move forward with the layoff notices.