On Tuesday night the San Leandro School Board voted to send pink slips to 39 teachers as part of its contingency plan to deal with a budget shortfall that could occur next year if state voters fail to approve new taxes in November.
A few hours before the board vote, San Leandro High School to demand that our school district -- like those in Hayward, San Lorenzo, Castro Valley and Oakland -- balance its budget without more teacher cuts.
School board member Mike Katz said that wasn't possible given our district's financial picture. He said Tuesday night's vote was unanimous but reluctant.
The layoffs ordered Tuesday could be rescinded under a couple of different scenarios that depend on the outcome of contract negotiations between the school district and the San Leandro Teachers Association.
The school board wants SLTA to extend givebacks in compensation and permit the administration to cut the school year by five days if the state reduces funding to the district.
The union argues that the school district has enough money in reserve to make sure its budget remains balanced next year, even in the event of a state funding pullback, without the threatened layoffs.
"We are already the lowest paid teachers in Alameda County with no raises for 5 years," SLTA president Jon Sherr said at Tuesday's rally.
He said the union was not fighting for pay hikes but for programs to improve education, such as keeping class sizes from increasing as a result of layoffs.
Sherr said student-teacher ratios were 20-1 about four years ago. They could rise to 32-1 next year under the board's contingency plan.
"Imagine that in just three or four years," he said.
It is possible that the state will revise its budget projections in a way that would increase revenues for San Leandro and allow the board to revoke some of the layoffs, Katz said.
May 15th is an important date.
The board would have to rescind the layoff notices by then in order for the affected teachers to be certain they will have jobs in San Leandro next year.
Sherr said Tuesday that the SLTA would be "collaborative and cooperative like we have been in the past."
School Board President Morgan Mack-Rose told Patch that she was "positive that we are going to come to a positive agreement."
But right now union and school board negotiators are not slated to meet until May 16th, although they could move the date up if a deal seemed possible.
Even if the date for canceling the layoffs passes, the affected teachers would still have first dibs on getting rehired if the district's financial picture improved as a result of a labor deal and/or a better funding outlook from the state.
But for now the teachers getting pink slipped face anxiety and the district faces the prospect that valued educators may seek jobs elsewhere.
Meanwhile, in Castro Valley, teachers and administrators have that includes, among other things, a provision to retain a 25-1 student-teacher ratio in grades K-3.