UPDATED: La Jolla to lose up to 53 teachers as school board upholds layoffs

San Diego Unifired School Board President John Lee Evans said they school district does not have the money to rescind more than 1,500 pink slips it issued in March.
San Diego Unifired School Board President John Lee Evans said they school district does not have the money to rescind more than 1,500 pink slips it issued in March.
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San Diego Unifired School Board President John Lee Evans said the school district does not have the money to rescind more than 1,500 pink slips it issued in March.

By Pat Sherman/ City News Service reports

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education on May 22 adopted the decision of an administrative law judge that upheld 1,534 layoff notices sent to employees districtwide.

Preliminary pink slips were issued to 1,656 employees in March to help close a $122 million budget gap for the next school year. Some were part-time employees, so the layoff list was comprised of the equivalent of 1,628 full-time positions who would be laid off at the end of this school year.

As many as 53 La Jolla teachers were given walking papers, including three at Bird Rock Elementary, nine at Torrey Pines Elementary, 13 at La Jolla Elementary and 14 and both Muirlands Middle and La Jolla High schools.

La Jolla High teachers’ union representative Patricia Thomas said that, as far as she is aware, none of the pink slips issued to La Jolla teachers and staff were rescinded.

Though the county’s top labor leader, Lorena Gonzalez, hinted that she would like the teachers’ union to agree to some salary and benefits concessions (read the story at

voiceofsandiego.org

), Thomas said staff at La Jolla High remain opposed to concessions, which she said would amount to opening teachers' contracts to more extensive changes.

“You can’t just bargain one part … because if you open the whole contract the whole thing is open to negotiation, so we feel that’s a bad idea," Thomas said. “We are going to stand together, stand strong and be patient and fight to have every one of those pink slips rescinded.”

Thomas said a certain number of people retiring or leaving the district for other reasons would open up a few hundred positions.

“I don’t think district (factored) in normal, average annual attrition,” she said. “Once class sizes increase in the fall, parents will be very unhappy and, I hope, start to put pressure on the school board and our representatives in Sacramento to say we care about education more than this.”

La Jolla High Principal Dana Shelburne said he notified the school district early on that he still had enough money in his budget to retain two of the 14 staff that received pink slips at his school. However, those two employees — a counselor and a math teacher — will lose their jobs regardless, and their positions be given to teachers in the district with more seniority, regardless of experience, he said.

“I may have a chance to interview for that position among those who are most senior and have a right to come back,” he said. “(But) it might be someone who has no senior high experience. … It makes the mess even larger.”

Shelburne said class sizes at La Jolla High could increase to about 45 in the fall, and he is unsure how the school will adjust.

“We’re trying to make lemonade out of lemons,” he said, nothing concerns that students may have to take courses in auditorium-style settings to accommodate hundreds of students at once. Shelburne said he also worries about issues with the fire marshal when students are packed tightly in classrooms.

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