In an effort to mitigate the $4 million deficit, Davis Joint Unified School District will instate over 100 teacher and personnel layoffs.
On May 2, 5 and 6, the district held strictly evidentiary hearings mediated by administrative law judge, Jonathan Lew, regarding the process and facts of the implementation of teacher layoffs. The hearing dates were divided based on services with elementary, secondary and other services, respectively.
“They are evidentiary hearings,” said DJUSD assistant superintendent of human resources, Kevin French. “The judge will be looking at seniority of the teachers, accuracy of credentials and the services the employees perform [such as subject, grade level, etc.].”
It is important to understand the layoffs are occurring purely because of the school district’s budget crisis and not because of the quality of the teachers’ performances.
“There is a deficit of $4 million from the annual budget and personnel reduction is how [the district is] trying to correct that,” French said. “This has nothing to do with [teachers’] competency; some are the best teachers we have in the district. It’s all based on seniority.”
The hearings will confirm issues of seniority and the intricate process in which teachers will be rehired after the district figures out next year’s budget. The funds raised by the Davis School Foundation, $800,000 to date, according to Leonardo Da Vinci High School principal Matt Best, will also go toward rehiring teachers.
The importance of noting seniority is that when the rehiring begins, the district will start with the most senior teachers unless a junior teacher is accredited to teach multiple subjects. In that case, the district may hire the junior teacher earlier, Best added.
The future of the layoffs and the school district is unknown to date and is completely dependent on what the budget is for next year.
“Nine out of our 12 teachers received pink slips,” Best said. “If we get six out of the nine teachers back we’ll be looking good [for next year,and if we get one of nine back we won’t be. The budget will determine how it’ll look at each site.”
Among all the concern with layoffs and programs within the district, the community has really joined together during this time of uncertainty.
“It’s been a tumultuous time for students and teachers over the months,” Best said. “It’s been easier since students have been tremendous activists on the teachers’ behalf and given their teachers hope. It’s been tough but students and parents in the small community have made it bearable.”
The reality of the situation is that many people will be left without a job, programs will end and students will have to learn in even larger classes.
“Most of the people who got layoff notices are people I hired in the last six years,” said Davis High School principal Mike Cawley. “It’s not a good feeling that some people won’t be here next year.”
Even without funding, the district is doing the best they can with the resources they have, Best said.
“It’s a tough situation for education and it’s difficult when education goes on the chopping block,” he said. “Until education is adequately funded we’ll keep doing what we need to do and give students the best opportunity we can.”
ALEX BULLER can be reached at email@example.com