With a June special election focused on tax extensions looking less and less likely, the possibility of hundreds of San Francisco teachers being laid off has increased.
On March 1, the district announced it could lay off 473 teachers, aides and administrators before the coming school year, or about 8 percent of that workforce. By state law, the district must give pink slips to anyone it intends to dismiss by May 15.
San Francisco Unified School District officials said the consequences of eliminating nearly 500 positions would be devastating to a district already strapped for cash.
Art, music and physical education classes are likely to be cut further, a district spokeswoman said.
“It’s discouraging,” spokeswoman Gentle Blythe said. “We’ve already been cut to the bone, and now we’re going to the bone marrow.”
But Blythe said the district is still in denial about the cuts it will soon have to make.
Gov. Jerry Brown had proposed a combination of budget cuts and revenue increases to close the $26.6 billion budget gap the state faces next fiscal year. To extend vehicle and income taxes already in place, California voters would have to give approval.
Brown had hoped to hold a special election in June, but time is running out.
County clerks say they need 88 days to prepare for a proper election. The Legislature has until today to vote to hold a June 21 election.
If the tax measures were put on a ballot and approved, Brown said he could avoid making additional cuts to K-12 education. Without the tax extensions, however, K-12 and dozens of state-funded programs will need to be cut.
On Thursday, Brown deferred $2.1 billion in payments to K-12 schools. And that’s just the beginning.
San Francisco Unified has already reduced the budget for this school year and next by $113 million. But without the tax extensions, the district will have to cut an additional $27 million from its $500 million operating budget.
“We tried to plan ahead for the worst-case scenario,” Blythe said. “So if we have to look at every possible cut, the likelihood of layoffs is very high.”
Matthew Hardy, a spokesman for the United Educators of San Francisco teachers union, said these cuts put students at risk because fewer teachers will be in classrooms.
“It’s a big disappointment,” he said. “Our children deserve to have education fully funded, and that’s not happening here.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
State education funding is in limbo.
473: SFUSD employees who received layoff notices
$27M: Additional cuts to SFUSD budget that are pending
$113M: Cuts already made
May 15: Final notices are given out