Ongoing concerns about the financial health of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District prompted the school board to approve the potential layoff of 11.6 full-time equivalent employees on Feb. 17.
Moore Washington, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources, explained to the school board that these potential layoffs were necessary because the state funding for public schools is uncertain and projections for district enrollment, particularly for kindergarten, were down for the 2011-2012 academic year. Additionally, the district was unsure how many retirements of current staff there will be, and it is unknown if Malibu’s Pt. Dume Elementary School will become a charter school. If Pt. Dume becomes a charter school staff from the school would have to be absorbed by other district schools.
By law, the school district has to give notice by March 15 to certificated employees who could be laid off for the following academic year. The district will be issuing the potential layoff notices to 6 full-time equivalent teachers and 5.6 full-time equivalent nurses.
Board members emphasized that the potential layoff notices were being issued as a precautionary measure and would help ensure the district can maintain needed flexibility with their budget.
Superintendent Tim Cuneo noted that district staff is not recommending any further reductions at this time. “We can weather a $19 or $350 loss” per student by the state. The state legislature will put adjustments into place for districts to make if the voters do not pass the tax extensions Gov. Jerry Brown is hoping for in June because the cut per student would then be much higher.
Before the vote on the layoff notices board member Laurie Lieberman emphasized, “It’s not a final decision” but it is necessary at this time.
Board member Nimish Patel echoed Lieberman by stating, that Measure Y, just passed in November, and “thought we were out of the woods” but here they are issuing layoff notices. “We have to be stewards for our school district” even if it’s difficult.
The only board member who voted against issuing the notices was Ralph Mechur. He was concerned that they were issuing notices to teachers before they had adequate staffing data and that by issuing notices to nurses they would “be cutting the district’s task force on health services discussion short.”