Sonoma County teacher layoff warnings plummet, except in Windsor
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 6:30 p.m.
More than 70 teaching jobs in Sonoma County's 40 school districts conceivably could be eliminated in the fall, with the Windsor School District accounting for 47 of those layoff warnings.
Other than in Windsor, layoff warnings are down dramatically.
More than half of the districts in Sonoma County did not issue any of the pink slips, and four districts issued notices for less than one full-time position. That marks a turnaround from recent years when layoff warnings peaked at nearly 200 in 2009.
The state requires districts to alert permanent and probationary teachers by March 15 if their positions could be eliminated in the following school year. The numbers do not include temporary teachers who are notified every year that their spots in the classroom are not guaranteed.
School districts have until May 15 to either rescind the layoff warnings or make them final.
Many school officials said passage of Proposition 30 by California voters in November provided enough financial relief to avoid layoff notices.
"We have made a commitment," said Ron Everett, director of human resources for Petaluma City Schools, where no layoff notices were given to teachers. "It might take us a little bit outside of our comfort level as far as numbers, but we have decided we've done enough and we are not bleeding anymore thanks to Prop. 30,"
"It's a way to say 'Thank you' to the public and 'We appreciate it' to teachers; so we'll make it work," he said.
Proposition 30 temporarily increases the state sales tax by a quarter-cent and income taxes on the wealthy by 1 to 3 percent. Its passage prevented what state officials said could have been $4.8 billion in cuts to K-12 education in the current school year.
Proposition 30 also is being credited with allowing some districts to reinstate days to next year's school calendar.
Long term, Proposition 30 maintains current levels of funding.
"I think we have been, as others have been, making so many reductions over the last several years that the financial picture appears to be improving from the terrible position we were in the last several years," said Jeff Harding, superintendent of Healdsburg School District. "We seem to be heading in the right direction."
Healdsburg issued no layoff notices.
The Sonoma County Office of Education issued layoff warnings for 8.4 full-time positions, county Superintendent Steve Herrington said.
After Windsor and the county program, Old Adobe School District issued the next highest number of notices, for 4.3 positions. District officials are waiting to see how the state budget develops and what enrollment for 2013-14 will be, but there is intent to rescind "the majority" of the layoff notices, Superintendent Cindy Pilar said.
"We are very hopeful that we will be able to bring some, if not all, of them back," she said.
Windsor has been grappling with chronic deficit spending. The county's fourth-largest school district is spending $44.5 million a year while bringing in $42 million.
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