More than 30 Sonoma County teachers face layoffs
Published: Monday, May 14, 2012 at 6:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 14, 2012 at 9:38 p.m.
More than 30 full-time teaching positions across Sonoma County are expected to be cut as school districts brace themselves for budget cuts from Sacramento.
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday released his revised budget, proposing to close an approximately $16 billion deficit using about $8 billion in cuts coupled with reliance on voters approving a tax increase in November.
If that measure is defeated, schools face trigger cuts of $5.5 billion.
School districts had until today to either rescind layoff warnings issued in March or to make them official, and many districts opted to keep the cuts in place rather than risk carrying a bulkier payroll into the 2012-2013 school year.
More than 57 positions were threatened with elimination in March, but district officials said programs, such as retirement incentives, allowed them to reinstate some positions.
The layoffs made official by today's legal deadline do not include temporary teachers who are notified every year that their spots in the classroom are not guaranteed. Those affected by today's layoff notices are probationary or tenured teachers.
Healdsburg issued layoff notices for nearly six full-time positions, while Cinnabar District and Two Rock, both in Petaluma, cut two each, West Sonoma County cut 1.3 and Roseland cut 1.7.
In Sebastopol, officials were able to rescind most of the layoff warnings they issued for 10 full-time positions in March because of a retirement incentive program, Superintendent Liz Schott said.
“We got six people out of that which is huge for us,” she said. “But you lose an incredible wealth of experience and talent and institutional memory and just great colleagues.”
Petaluma City Schools was able to rescind all 10.7 full-time layoff notices it issued, Superintendent Steve Bolman said.
Encouraging veteran teachers to retire a year or two early saves the district as much as $23,000 a year in salary difference and allows Petaluma to keep teachers who would have been laid off, Bolman said.
“We were letting go teachers who we hope are are going to make a career here in Petaluma City Schools,” he said. “We definitely lost some terrific teachers (through the retirement incentive), but they were terrific teachers who were going to retire next year or the year after.”
Santa Rosa City Schools rescinded its layoff warnings, and Rohnert Park didn't issue any.
Other layoffs are planned by multiple small districts around the county.
Even with the prospect of budgetary relief via Brown's tax measure on the November, officials are forced to assume the measure will fail and cut now, said Arun Ramanathan, executive director of Education Trust-West, an education advocacy group based on Oakland.
“How is a school district going to respond to this? A trigger cut is a cut,” he said. “A school district that doesn't want to be concerned with bankruptcy is going to budget conservatively.”
What is left to cut in November are school days, Ramanathan said.
“There is no more of an inequality cut than cutting the school year,” he said.
Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.