California school districts have until Sunday to send out layoff notices to teachers for the academic year that starts in the fall. Layoffs are up slightly this year from last. But they’re overwhelmingly lower than during the recession.
Kelsey Baxter knew she might get laid off this week. It’s her first year teaching full-time at an elementary school in San Bruno, on the San Francisco peninsula, and seniority rules the layoff process. Still, it wasn’t easy to get her termination notice.
“Even though we get three months off – or everybody thinks we do – there’s a lot of prep that goes into getting ready for the next school year,” Baxter says. “And by June, the end of June, if you don’t have a room or a job, you really start to get into that panic mode – oh, gosh, am I going to get a job? Am I not?”
Baxter is one of about 1,000 California teachers who’ve received layoff notices this week. Last year, just 750 teachers. There were 22,000 layoffs at the height of the state’s budget crisis five years ago. More than half of this year’s layoffs are in Los Angeles Unified, which – like Baxter’s district – is in negotiations with the local teachers union.
Yet Baxter still has a shot at returning next year. California law requires districts to send out termination notices by March 15th of each year. But that’s months before the state passes a budget, so Jameel Naqvi with the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office says districts play it safe by overestimating layoffs.
“In many cases, once districts have a better idea of how they’re going to be funded and the budget is passed, many of these teachers are rehired – in some cases, all of them,” Naqvi says. “But obviously, it’s not the ideal situation, because it creates substantial uncertainty.”
The LAO has urged the Legislature to push back the layoff deadline to June 1st, but teachers unions have blocked that proposal.