Board of Education voted to cut millions from the Long Beach Unified School District budget by closing two elementary schools, increasing class sizes and sending layoff notices to more than 400 teachers.During its scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the
Buffum Elementary and Burroughs Elementary will be closed at the end of the year. Class sizes will be increased to a 30:1 student-teacher ratio in grades K-3. Class sizes will also increase from grades 6-12.
Teachers who receive layoff notices will not necessarily lose their jobs, but the move is a preliminary action required by the teacher's union. The district must notify teachers of possible layoffs several months before they sit down with the union to negotiate, so 429 teachers who receive a pink slip will not definitely lose their jobs.
Then again, the district could also decide to increase that number.
LBUSD Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser
3:56pm Monday | Facing another massive budget deficit in the 2011-12 school year, the Long Beach Unified School District board of education Tuesday will discuss sending layoff notices to more than 600 employees - most of them teachers.
The notice is required of the LBUSD if they intend to enact layoffs, though it does not mean that the district will ultimately fire the full 621 employees. The district must notify employees of the possibility of layoffs, but will not negotiate with the teacher's union until summer. Only then will it emerge how many employees are at risk.
Tomorrow's meeting will consist of a preliminary presentation of the issue, and the Board will not officially decide anything regarding layoffs until February 15.
"Even those receiving notcies by the mid-March deadline won't necessarily be laid off," said LBUSD spokesperson Chris Eftychiou today. "The hope is that down the line we get better news and can back away from some of these reductions."
The agenda item during tomorrow's Board meeting comes after a meeting between LBUSD officials last week to consider ways to reduce spending by about $155 million. Several ideas were discussed, but the most efficient would be the process of increasing class sizes through layoffs.
Class sizes in K-3 could potentially grow to 30:1, while class sizes in Grades 6-12 could reach 35:1. The district may also ask elementary schools with relatively low enrollment to share principals. Hundreds of teachers, administrators, teachers, librarians, nurses, counselors and other staff could lose their jobs.
There are also several options to make other cuts to programs and services, which the Board could act on during tomorrow's meeting if they wish.
"Unfortunately we have to plan for the worst," said Eftychiou. "We have to adopt our budget well before the State adopts their budget and can tell us how much they'll actually provide."
Governor Jerry Brown elected not to cut any more from public K-12 education in his budget proposal, and is attempting to accrue more funding for schools through five ballot measures asking voters to extend existing taxes. Eftychiou says that the LBUSD is crafting its cuts based on the assumption that those measures will not pass, just to be safe.