More than 300 Modesto City Schools teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians will receive warnings that they could be laid off for next school year.
The notices must go out before March 15, with pink slips being handed out May 15. The Board of Education will consider the layoff warnings at its meeting Monday.
School district boards of education across the state will be discussing employee layoffs over the next few weeks. Sylvan Union trustees earlier this month approved sending layoff notices to 50 employees of that northeast Modesto district.
Modesto City Schools officials must cut spending by $25 million, but some worry that figure could approach $35 million in May, when Gov. Schwarzenegger releases revised funding numbers for the 2010-11 year.
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The district did not need to lay off permanent teachers last year because of retirements and federal stimulus money. The federal money is gone for 2010-11, state funding has dropped drastically and fewer students are enrolled in Modesto schools.
"We've never had to do this before," said Chris Flesuras, deputy superintendent of human resources, about the massive layoffs. The district employs about 1,700 teachers, counselors, librarians and nurses.
Normally, only probationary teachers receive the March 15 layoff warnings, but this year's notices would reach up the seniority list to those in their fifth or sixth year of teaching. The 300-plus number assumes the teachers union agrees to increase class sizes to 32 students in elementary grades and 39 at high schools.
Flesuras said the final number of layoffs probably will be much smaller, but officials need to be cautious and overestimate in case the budget picture gets worse.
Teachers, unions shocked by quantity
Still, teachers and union leaders were shocked to hear so many would get layoff warnings. The cost of those teachers comes to $16 million to $21 million, according to Flesuras and Barney Hale, executive director of the Modesto Teachers Association.
"(Administrators) have talked about lack of equity and employees taking their fair share of cuts, yet it is clear that a disproportional amount of cuts are to MTA," Hale said.
He noted that only 14 to 15 managers were getting pink slips, but Flesuras said officials were bringing "Phase 2" of management cuts to a Board of Education meeting March 10.
On Monday, Hale and other teachers will ask trustees to delay approving the layoff notices until March 10.
"They're trying to rush this through without allowing the public, teachers, board members to have any discussion," Hale said.
Almost 50 of the 325 layoff warnings are for teachers and counselors funded through special offerings, such as the Regional Occupational Program that focuses on vocational education.
For coming years, state funding earmarked for these special programs can be diverted to school districts' bottom line to help cushion spending cuts.
Modesto City Schools trustees haven't decided which of those funds should be transferred to the general fund.
Monday's meeting will start at 6 p.m. in the district office boardroom, 425 Locust St., but the location could change if officials think they'll need a site with more room for the public.