La Jolla High will start the new school year on Sept. 4 with a full contingent of teachers, but Principal Dana Shelburne said there’s still some question about whether they will still be there when the district takes its enrollment count in late September.
Once San Diego Unified School District trustees and the San Diego Education Association reached an agreement on contract concessions that saved 1,000 teachers’ jobs, Shelburne knew that he would have the same number of positions the school had when the 2011-12 year ended.
But now, he wondered aloud, “What if not enough students come back?”
And on top of that, there’s the uncertainty about what happens if voters don’t approve one of the two tax measures – Propositions 30 and 38 — on the November ballot that would raise funds for education. If that happens, district officials have said it will mean reducing the school year by up to 14 days and teacher salaries would be cut by a corresponding amount.
Shelburne knows the answer to the first scenario – cut teachers – and fears the effects of the second.
The student count and budget drama have put a crimp on assigning teachers to classes, he said. He has been asking himself whether to assign them all and hope that enrollment comes up to where it was at the end of last year. Or does he leave a couple of teachers floating without specific assignments in case it doesn’t?
At the end of last week, the district was set to ask principals what their needs are based on anticipated enrollment, which in LJHS’s case looks to be down about 30 students, Shelburne said.
But he won’t really know until the students sit down in class. Some may be headed to charter or private schools; others may have moved. Or the opposite could happen: Parents might not be able to afford the private tuition or charter schools didn’t work out.
“It’s hard to track demographics,” the principal said. “We just don’t know. We ask parents to make appointments … but people just don’t call and say ‘I’m leaving the district.”
So he’s building a scheduled based on needing 55 teachers, but there’s a possibility the district may tell him to take back more and he has to figure out how to squeeze them out of his allotted budget.
And then on the second Friday in September, the district takes a head count, followed by another at the end of the month. That’s when he may have to make adjustments.
“If I have two teachers I may not be able to keep, should I put them in the library so there’s no impact on students or (in case) I get to keep them, should I put them on the schedule now?” he said.
Either way it means changing schedules and “disrupting kids,” he said. While having additional teachers means smaller classes “either case is not good.”
As of last week, he still hadn’t decided which way to go even as seniors were set to start registering on Friday.