City News Service
The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education voted 3-1 Tuesday, April 24 to issue layoff notices to about 975 full- and part- time classified employees for the next fiscal year to help balance a budget deficit that could reach $122 million.
Notices would be issued to affected employees, which include library assistants, custodians and assistants at child development centers, by Sunday and would take effect when the new fiscal year begins.
"We acknowledge the negative impact of the loss of those positions, but we believe this must be done," said Deputy Superintendent Phil Stover.
District staff estimated the reductions could save about $38.7 million in salary and benefits, but actual savings would be determined when employees were laid off or bumped into lower level positions.
"There isn't $124 million hiding in the rafters," said board member Kevin Beiser. "We have to make some incredibly terrible choices."
Several district employees spoke out against the layoffs including Sylvia Alvarez, chapter president of the office-technical and business services bargaining unit, who called the layoffs ridiculous.
"We're bare bones now," Alvarez said. "Our people are overloaded, they're stressed and the students are not being served."
Dan Ortiz, labor relations representative for the California School Employees Association, the statewide union representing the employees, said the cuts in maintenance and custodial would would have unintended consequences.
"The staff is doing the best they can, but they are not getting the resources to really maintain the schools," Ortiz said.
Beiser said the cuts were not final and district could work together with unions to balance the budget "in a humane way" that would not result in the need for massive layoffs.
Board member Richard Barrera acknowledged classified employees had made past sacrifices, but asked them to sacrifice again to avoid deep cuts.
"The honest truth is we do have to make these cuts tonight," Barrera said. "The honest truth is that we have to sit down with you at the bargaining table again and ask you for more sacrifice on top of the sacrifice that you've made."
Frances Fierro, a former office-technical and business services bargaining unit leader, asked who would do the work if classified services were cut, because classified employees were essential.
"We are facing tremendous cuts, we've faced them every year," Fierro said. "We don't get recalled an rescinded as quickly as the teachers do."
The district issued more than 1,600 layoff notices last month to certificated employees like teachers, counselors and nurses to help erase a budget deficit that could reach $122 million, depending on how much funding would be provided from the state.