As the March 15 deadline nears, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) asked that his fellow lawmakers join him in co-authoring a measure (SB 559) today designed to end the annual school March madness when unnecessary layoff “pink slip” notices go out to tens of thousands of teachers. Most of the notices never lead to actual layoffs, but they can cause teachers and families to experience unnecessary grief.
Current law requires districts to send out notices every year by March 15th, but because school districts have no idea what their budgets will look like, they typically overestimate and send out countless layoff notices to teachers who will never actually be laid off.
The change sought in Senator Huff’s legislation, which has been recommended by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), changes the complicated, expensive and inconsistent procedure that costs millions in taxpayer dollars. The out-of-date law also creates months of undue stress on teachers since most layoff notices issued by school districts are rescinded.
“We have to put an end to the practice of causing teachers to think they are going to lose their job, then turning around and telling them ‘never mind,’” said Senator Huff. “It’s cruel. Everyone thinks their job is in jeopardy, which creates anxiety for the teachers’ families, students and communities.”
In one year at Elk Grove Unified, one of California’s larger school districts, 445 teachers received pink slips, crushing morale among the teaching staff. But by July, all of the layoff notices were repealed after the district was able to properly assess the state budget. The last minute decision created a mass scramble to place teachers back in the classroom, disrupting valuable learning time for students.
According to Ed Trust West, in 2010, of the three largest California districts, 78% of the layoff notices were ultimately withdrawn by July. The LAO estimates the notices cost $706 per teacher, costing schools millions annually. This is money that could have gone to the classroom.
SB 559 will move preliminary layoff notices from March 15 to June 1, which is closer to the state budget deadline. Final notices would be moved from May 15 to August 1.