As districts throughout the county and state face the annual March rite of issuing pink slips to classroom teachers, Santa Cruz City Schools takes a different path. For the first time in years, despite continuing deep cuts in education funding from the state, district leaders will not issue pink slips to permanent teachers.
At a meeting on February 23, the SCCS board voted to approve preliminary layoff notices for temporary workers and some Adult Education staff; notices driven by uncertainties in federal and state funding. What they did not do this year was issue the mass layoffs typically on the agenda at the end of February.
What makes this year different? By carefully conserving one-time federal stimulus and ARRA funds, applying savings from the 5-day reduction of the school year and thoughtful planning, the district has protected a reserve nearly four times the required minimum. Teachers, parents, board members and administrators all decry the impact on morale that follows the March deadline for preliminary pink slip notifications. Even when pink slips are rescinded, the cycle of uncertainty has a lasting impact on the community – including the students in our classrooms. A deep concern and respect for valued employees motivated district leaders to work hard to avoid issuing unnecessary layoff notices.
“The board and leadership, with concessions from our bargaining unit members, made the tough decisions last year and it has positioned us to protect teacher jobs and continue voter supported programs like art, music, counseling, libraries, and small classes of 20-1 in 9th grade math and English as well as small class sizes in K-3 and 4 & 5. We are working hard to maintain community confidence in public schools in otherwise bleak fiscal times.”
SCCS Board President, Cynthia Hawthorne
As a result of this careful planning and caution, district leaders and teachers can now focus on supporting the Governor’s proposed tax extensions in the June special election. The effort will be critical; should the taxes fail or fail to even reach the ballot, Santa Cruz City Schools faces a $3-5 million loss of funds which will force deep reductions in the 2012-13 school year.
**Updated March 3, 2011**
No Pink Slips for Teachers in Santa Cruz City Schools – Santa Cruz Sentinel