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209 teachers definitely losing jobs
State cuts another $5.3M, stimulus funds cover loss
Manteca Unified will issue final lay-off notices to 209 teachers by June 15.

The district rescinded layoff notices to another 52 teachers that originally received them in March. The decision came on the heels of more bad news - the loss of $993,000 of state reimbursement of school bus transportation – to push the deficit for the 2009-10 school year to $32,775,000.

The deficit has grown from $14 million since December thanks to the state continuingly revising local assistance estimates downward in response to the tanking economy that has sent tax receipt plummeting in Sacramento.

Since mid-May with the failure of the budget initiatives in the special election and revised deficit figures based on sales tax receipts, the shortfall the district was facing jumped from $23.9 million to $29.1 million. The portion of the federal stimulus aid for education that was unrestricted that was earmarked for California came to $6 million.

“People have been thinking we could use that to save jobs for next school year,” noted District Superintendent Jason Messer.

What happened were the funding cuts announced in mid-May also applied to this year. As it stands, the stimulus money from the federal government will now go to cover the remaining payroll of $13 million for the current school year leaving the district without a dime to put toward the 2009-10 school year. The $6 million the state cut in May was money already committed to Manteca Unified that they won’t now be receiving. It is typical for state payment to come three to six months behind when the state requires school districts to spend money.  The actual reimbursement in many cases has been less than what the state committed to providing.

Local school districts are in an interesting quandary since they are required by state law to adopts budget before the state decides what they will receive plus they are then forced to move forward on the assumption the state will pay what they promised.

Messer is optimistic that Manteca Unified may be one of the few districts that won’t have to enact Education Code Section 44955.5 that gives districts the authority to issue new layoff notices by Aug. 15 after a budget is adopted providing they don’t get at least a 2 percent increase in state funding.

Schools are governed usually by the need to issue notice of potential layoffs first by March 15 and then again on May 15 to those teachers who have the potential of getting final lay-off notices on June 15.

Messer believes the cuts in place will allow the district to weather any more layoffs for now unless there are new cuts imposed by the state. The only exception may be in the cases where teachers may not have credentials that match the requirements for classes of grade levels being taught.

The final layoffs mean 17 percent of Manteca Unified’s teaching ranks will be thinned by the start of the 2009-10 school years the week of Aug. 2.

That means all remaining teachers will have at least three years of tenure in Manteca Unified.

Messer said it is hitting people hard as many of those getting layoffs – including classified employees – are facing the real prospect of losing their homes through foreclosure.