A $3.8 million drop in funding is translating to significant cuts in programs and services in the Davis Joint Unified School District.
The main services and programs on the chopping block for budget cuts will affect class sizes and classes that are either under-enrolled, do not contribute to college preparation, or do not fulfill graduation requirements. Secretarial jobs, maintenance and custodial work will also be affected by the cutbacks.
“Almost 90 percent of a school district’s budget is people,” said Pamela Mari, DJUSD’s director of student services. “So when you make cuts, you cut people; the equation is quite simple.“
As a result of these program and service reductions, roughly 70 DJUSD employees will receive notifications of potential layoff, said superintendent James Hammond in a written statement. A total of 54 full-time positions will be terminated for the next year. The 54 positions cut will mostly be teaching jobs and about 17 classified jobs such as custodial and secretarial positions.
“I think it’s a disaster to be laid off in this economy. I don’t think there are any jobs out there,” said Mary Ryan, a third-grade teacher at Fairfield Elementary School.
The elementary schools of Davis will be hit particularly hard, since class-size reduction is one of the main targets of the cutback. Class size in K-3 classes is currently limited to twenty students and will be expected to increase by 1 or 2 students. This means less room for teachers who teach K-3. Class size is expected to increase for English and math classes in the ninth grade and for English classes for the 10th grade.
Ryan said she didn’t expect to be laid off because the layoffs are organized by seniority, and she has worked for the district for 25 years.
The Davis school district has an edge over other local districts in that the two parcel taxes passed recently help support funding for certain programs. The Davis community just recently passed the second parcel tax with particular attention paid to programs that are extremely hard hit in times of financial crisis.
“The school districts around us are having to raise class size, as we are, and cutting programs, as we are, and laying off a great number of teachers, as we are,” Mari said. “Unlike them, however, we have the support for programs that are normally on the chopping block.“
The Davis school districts have also received a number of retirements and resignations from the older staff much earlier than usual. This will also ease the number of layoffs that would have occurred.
However, the cutbacks that will lead to increased class sizes in K-12, fewer course options for junior high and high schools, and fewer services like technology services, maintenance, counselors and psychologists still weighs heavily on faculty and students.
“I went through this myself in the early part of my career and I was laid off eight times. It is absolutely within the normal development of a teacher to be laid off at some point in their early years and then hired back at some point. No other professionals are treated this way,” said Mari. “I can speak for them all in saying that we are people who do what we do because we have a passion for children and our careers because there’s nothing else that would make us work under these conditions and for the money.
Four District Office positions will be cut, and secretarial and vice-principal time will also trimmed down. As another way to save money, DJUSD will be moving school board elections to even years as another way to save money.
“[These cuts are] very demoralizing. We’re roundly criticized continuously for failing to meet what the society and or governmental leaders expect and at the same time that we get less and less and less and work with,” said Mari. “You might notice that not a single penny has been cut from the massive standardized testing, but 15 percent of all the resources to help the kids reach those standards have been cut.“
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