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Actual layoffs of teachers may be lower if things gel

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POSTED March 21, 2009 5:40 a.m.
A hiring freeze and a successful negotiation of employee compensation cuts of 5 percent across the board could allow the Manteca Unified School District to rescind 80 percent of the layoff notices already issued.

That is, of course, if state voters approve a series of ballot measures in a special May election designed to help bridge the $42 billion budget

The March Unified budget update by District Superintendent Jason Messer – that offered the possibility 80 percent of the layoff notices may be rescinded  — already has a wrench being thrown into it. The California leaders are now estimating there will be a new $8 billion budget deficit to gap by July 1 if current revenue and spending trends continues.

The latest development involving the state’s deteriorating financial position keeps muddying the picture in terms of how many teachers – and support staff – will actually lose jobs.

Public school districts are required by state law to notify tenured teachers by March 15 if there is a chance they will not have a job when the next school year starts in August.

If the school district doesn’t notify them they cannot legally eliminate positions even if there is a funding crunch.

Messer emphasized from the start of the budget cutting process that the board made it clear they did not want to submit blanket layoff notices. Instead, the 100-member budget reduction committee drafted recommendations that zeroes in on how many positions could be reduced with various strategies. At the same time the district financial staff was matching up state shortfall scenarios with what would have to be cut if they materialized. Since 85 percent of all district expenditures are tied up in salaries and benefits, jobs are on the line in every option that provides significant relief for the deficit.

There were 322 teachers issued layoff notices issued by Manteca Unified prior to the March 15 deadline or about 25 percent of the district teaching staff. If things hold, the actual layoffs may result tin just the loss of 64 teaching jobs but that depends on the voters in May and no further weakening of state revenue streams.

Classified employees – including non-certified administrators at the district office – have been issued layoff notices as have two janitors and two clerks at school annexes. The district has flexibility when it goes to layoff classified workers. The positions eliminated on the school site are based on board approval to shutter both the Sequoia Annex and Lathrop Annex campuses.

The district level jobs reflect budget cut strategies that are being put in place based on board decisions.
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