Dozens of Sonoma County teachers get layoff notices
Caitlin Renteria was teaching second-graders a St. Patrick’s Day-themed math lesson Friday morning at Albert F. Biella Elementary School when she was called to the school office for a short visit with a district official. For the second time in two years, she was told she may no longer have a job when the next school year begins.
“I knew I had to keep it together when I went back to class to finish the math lesson,” said Renteria, who’s in her second year teaching in the Santa Rosa public school district, the county’s largest.
Renteria is one of 22 of the district’s teachers notified they may lose their jobs in the fall. Additionally, the school board said Wednesday that 14 teachers would be let go in June.
School districts across Sonoma County this week laid off dozens of teachers amid declining enrollment, shifting demographics, lingering wildfire effects and an increase in teacher pension and special education costs. The districts faced a Friday deadline to notify teachers who could be terminated before the next school year. Since nobody keeps an overall tally, it’s unclear how many of the county’s 40 school districts will be cutting teaching positions.
“We are in a new reality when we look at staff, and we have to look at the humanity as we look at these positions,” Santa Rosa Assistant Superintendent Stacy Spector said Wednesday.
Renteria was given the same notice this time last year, when she was teaching in a different Santa Rosa elementary school. She was informed just two days before the school year ended in 2018 that her job would continue at another city school.
“I like the community at Biella. I feel hopeful that I’m going to keep my job,” said Renteria, 28.
Meanwhile, 18 teachers will lose their jobs at the end of the school year in the West Sonoma County High School District.
A handful of those teachers are from the West County Charter Middle School in Forestville, which will close this June, partially as a result of unforeseen special education costs. The rest of the teachers who received layoff notices are at Analy and El Molino high schools.
“All the notices have been personally delivered to the employees. We do expect based on resignations and retirements that we will be able to re-hire some of the employees that received a layoff notice,” Mia Del Prete, the district’s human resources manager, wrote in an email.
The Wright Elementary School District board on Tuesday laid off one teacher and five part-time aides. Superintendent Adam Schaible said it was due to declining enrollment, the rising cost of special education services and district pension contributions.
The district of about 1,400 students lost 85 students since the 2018 school year, about a 5 percent drop, which affects the district’s state funding.
“That’s a huge drop for us,” Schaible said. “We’re preparing for what looks like another down year in enrollment.”
The Cloverdale school board Thursday night decided to cut three full-time teacher positions. One teacher will be laid off, while the other two positions will remain unfilled because of a resignation and a retirement, Superintendent Jeremy Decker said.
The Cloverdale school district has 1,375 students enrolled, 65 fewer students compared with last year, Decker said.
In the Windsor school district, Superintendent Brandon Krueger said three teachers — teaching theater, French and Spanish — were told they would have fewer classes to teach.
“If more students enroll and request those classes, we may be able to bring them back,” Krueger said of the classes.
You can reach Staff Writer Susan Minichiello at 707-521-5216 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @susanmini.