23 Aug 2014
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Layoffs Cautioned by Murrieta Valley Unified

Due to a $19-million projected shortfall, the district may need to downsize by as many as 66 full-time teaching positions and a yet unknown number of support positions.

Layoffs Cautioned by Murrieta Valley Unified

As many as 66 full-time teaching positions are vulnerable to layoffs in the Murrieta Valley Unified School District as part of a worst-case scenario, an official said Thursday.

The district is predicting a for next school year on a budget crafted without Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax increases, and has a March 15 deadline by law to file the notices.

"It is very likely some of our teachers are going to get noticed at least preliminarily that they may be at risk for layoff," Assistant Superintendent Pat Kelley told members of the school board.

Thirty temporary teachers have already been released, Kelley said, based on the board's actions at its last meeting.

"In past years we have been very successful in bringing back several of our temporary employees and that will continue to be the goal," Kelley said.

He said it was also important to note that the number given for potential teacher layoffs reflected full-time equivalent teaching positions.

"This does not mean necessarily 66 people would be laid off...but (may be) removed through attrition spots that have been achieved already. That is some of the good news."

Thirty-five certificated employees, two management and 26 classified have chosen to accept an early retirement incentive, and the district is considering reopening that window. The incentive has the potential to save the district $3 million, Kelley said.

The district is also preparing for a 9.66-percent projected pay reduction for the school board, senior management, management and support positions such as counselors, psychologists and speech therapists.

A classified layoff of support workers could also take place in April or May, Kelley said.

"These are all upcoming potential actions that we might see," Kelley said. "I want to express strongly that there is a lot of diligent work that is going on behind the scenes (with the labor unions)."

In addition, there are contingency plans that teacher to student ratios could increase to 32 to 1 at the elementary level and up to 34 to 1 in the core subjects at middle school and high school.

"That is not the goal. We do not want that to happen. But the challenge of a $20-million hole puts us in a position to at least be planning in those directions," Kelley said.

Should the class sizes increase, Kelley said the district may need to decide on whether to shave off three student days this year in order for staff to make preparations. It could also mean losing as many as 10 student days in the 2012-2013 school year, he said.

Kelley cautioned that the financial news about education coming out of Sacramento was volatile, and will likely change with the governor's May budget, again in June and August and potentially in November.

"We need to position ourselves in a way we are not backed into a corner," Kelley said.

Superintendent Dr. Stan Scheer said the district must turn in a budget not reliant on what-ifs.

"The county has been very clear to us that when we submit our budget for next year it has to be a budget that doesn't have placeholders, that has actual things you can do to balance that budget," Scheer said. "So at least for now unless we hear differently that's what we are doing in preparation for that is making sure things we have built into that budget is for that worst case."

Scheer said base funding per student has in six years decreased from $6,300 to $5,100 per year, and may drop to $4,700 next year.

"We have had this situation for the last five years and the state has been very very slow to look at solutions...all they've done is talked about the problem...it is such a distraction, incredible distraction," Scheer said.

Board member Kris Thomasian "condemned" the state Legislature.

"...For putting school districts and our students and our staff all across this state in this terrible situation," Thomasian said.

"Parents and families and community members need to know what's happening. This is real. This is devastating to our education community," she said.

"I say to the governor and the Legislature, shame," said Board President Paul Diffley.

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