TURLOCK — School trustees voted to send layoff notices to 76 teachers, but are hopeful all of them will get to keep their jobs.
Late Tuesday, the Turlock Unified School District board voted to issue the pink slips.
"These are layoff notices, these are not terminations," Superintendent Sonny Da- Marto said. "It's my hope and it's always been my hope that we will be able to weather this crisis together as a team and we will be able to do that without anybody losing a job."
However, he cautioned, "Everybody will need to suffer."
Though the layoff notices approved Tuesday are limited to teachers, other staff could be affected. Teachers must be notified by next week if their jobs are in jeopardy; other unions have different notification requirements.
Several employees — representing campus supervisors, clerical staff, librarians and custodians — addressed the board, asking members to consider carefully the effects of further cuts.
While other districts have laid off employees in the past couple of years, Turlock Unified has managed to avoid that step, even though it sent out 127 warnings last year. Turlock has cut $12 million in the past two years through early retirements, pay cuts and one-time money to fill budget gaps.
"This board has asked the administration to make every effort to save jobs," Board President Frank Lima said. "I like to think we've been more prudent, more conservative than some other districts. I appreciate the restraint this district has shown."
The board Tuesday night also passed resolutions that spell out how termination decisions would be made — generally, based on seniority. All passed unanimously.
"I don't like any of these resolutions, frankly," trustee Eileen Hamilton said. "But it's something we have to do at this time."
Board members agreed that it's no longer good enough to come up with stopgap measures to get the district through one more year.
Trustee John Sims called the bleak budget outlook part of the "new normal" that districts are going to have to face.
"What we're used to is just not what we are going to be seeing," he said.
Julie Shipman, president of the Turlock Teachers Association, said Wednesday that she is optimistic the district can avoid layoffs again this year.
Last year, she said, teachers felt the board sent out a larger number of layoff notices than necessary to scare them into negotiations.
"This year, we have the confidence that we can go in there and can work with the district with factual numbers and come up with something that is beneficial to both sides," she said. "I know the board doesn't like sending out the pink slips."
Shipman said a wage freeze, one possibility the board's budget committee has discussed, should be considered a last resort. She is advocating putting teachers on furlough for three school days, bringing days of instruction down from 180 to 177.
"The state says you can have up to five fewer days of instruction without a penalty in (average daily attendance) funding," Shipman said. "As it is now, you can furlough staff and administrators, but not teachers."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.