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SCVNews.com | Falling School Enrollment Leads to Talk of Layoffs | 03-04-2013
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schooldeskappleThree districts are looking at the possibility of layoffs based on declining enrollments that have led to an ever-shrinking budget picture over the last five years, school district officials said.

“When you’re faced with declining enrollments, you have to make sure you’re right-sized for the staff that you have,” said Joan Lucid, superintendent for Saugus Union School District.

“Once, we finish with all of our numbers, then we’re in a better place to decide what we need, and if there’s something else we can do,” she added.

For Saugus Union, if the motion is approved, there would be three preliminary notices for positions in student support services in the area of special needs education, said Saugus Union board President Judy Umeck.

The district has seen a declining enrollment in that area of need, according to a staff recommendation.

Both Lucid and Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger will be reporting staff recommendations that call for the preliminary “Reduction in Force” notices, which have to be mailed out by March 15, according to state law.

The notices are not equivalent to pink slips — but state law dictates that if a district is going to layoff a public school teacher, a notice has to be sent by the middle of this month.

It’s become a regrettable annual tradition since 2008, when state tax revenues that fund local districts, as well as enrollments, began a steady decline, Winger said.

“We’ve done this for the last six years,” he said.

“The good news this year is that no probationary or permanent general or special education classroom teacher will receive any notice of layoff,” Winger said. “Unfortunately though, we still need to take a list of teachers to the board on Tuesday, which includes the release of our temporary teachers and also a preliminary layoff notice for a music teacher.”

Newhall’s enrollment figures show a steady population for this year compared to last, but   decline for the next four years, Winger said.

Winger said he’s heard from the community when word of the notices got out, but he emphasized two things: a) The notices don’t make the cuts inevitable, it’s merely a precautionary measure, and the district has been very successful in keeping staff even when the notices have gone out, all things considered; and b) “the (music program) is one of the most valuable programs in our district; it’s very unique, no question about it, but it’s not exempt from the kind of scrutiny we give every program in terms of allocation of resources.”

The Newhall district will send out 27 notices, 26 of them for temporary 1-year contract teacher positions and temporary physical education teachers.

Saugus Union will be sending out three preliminary notices.

Lucid said it’s an unfortunate situation, but Proposition 30, which was billed as a way to help schools stave off these kinds of cuts, didn’t actually restore any of the funding losses schools have seen over the last half-decade, it merely stopped further cuts that would have come out to about $457 per student, she said.

“It’s always very difficult,” Lucid said, “And something that, as a district, we never want to have to do.”

Sulphur Springs officials also announced that they would be sending layoff notices at their most recent meeting.

Officials with the Sulphur Springs School District office could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.

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