District ducks layoffs for now


March 15 is known as the foreboding “Ides of March” in the Roman calendar. It is also a date that teachers in California dread. It is when certified employees receive lay-off notices.

The California Education Code Section 44955(b) requires school boards to issue preliminary pink slips by March 15, and then make the final decision on layoffs by May 15.

The pink slips are given to those school employees whose services are not expected to be needed the following year.

“It could be for a multitude of reasons,” said Sherry Kropp, Ed.D., superintendent of the Los Alamitos Unified School District

With the state budget suffering teacher layoffs have been expected to rock the public education system around the state. However, Kropp said the LAUSD is holding its own in the battle to keep the quality of its education high, despite the current economy and dwindling public monetary resources.

“This year, Los Alamitos Unified School District did not issue any lay-off notices for the purposes of reducing staffing or increasing class sizes due to the current financial situation,” Kropp said. “Instead, we use Interest Based Bargaining to work with our employees in order to find mutually acceptable solutions. Kropp said that because of the loss of revenue from the state now for several years, LAUSD is deficit spending.

“Obviously, this is challenging,” she said. “It’s also vitally important. The state continues to create a budget that has potential mid-year cuts.  Next year, if the tax initiative does not pass, the Governor’s budget proposal includes devastating cuts to public education.”

Kropp said LAUSD needs two plans: One plan if the tax initiative passes and one plan if the tax initiative fails.

“Yet, if we didn’t issue pink slips by March 15, we cannot reduce staffing of permanent certificated employees to address any mid-year cuts.

“As I said earlier, this can be challenging. We have been able to take small bites so that, although we are deficit spending, we have time to react in a thoughtful manner and can make it through the year (2012-13) regardless of mid-year cuts.

Kropp said that if LAUDS does experience devastating mid-year cuts next year, it will be working with its association groups to address the issue for the 2013-14 school year.

“We are fortunate to have a relationship of open communication and trust with our association groups,” she said.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson issued the following statement regarding the issuance of thousands of preliminary layoff notices to California teachers:

“Teachers across the state have rightly come to dread March 15.

“Though the very future of our state depends on California’s teachers, today will receive a layoff notice that suggests just the opposite and will now spend months in limbo, worrying about their futures and the future of their students.

“Every pink slip being issued today is an unwelcome and undeserved blow to the morale of the teacher who receives it. They should also remind all of us of the urgency of finding the will and the resources to end the financial emergency facing our public schools.”


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