Diamond Bar-Walnut Senator Huff's Teacher Layoff Bill Dies in Committee

Huff said SB 559, which would have pushed back the deadlines for issuing teacher pink slips, died because most on the committee are Democrats.

Senator Bob Huff's proposed legislation that would have moved back state deadlines for preliminary and final teacher layoff notices was voted down in the Education Committee.

Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said in a news release that Senate Bill 559 died was in large part because the majority of those on the committee are Democrats.

School districts are required to send preliminary layoff notices to teachers by March 15 and permanent pink slips by May 15 each year.

Huff said that the process is complicated and expensive, as well as a cause of "emotional turmoil" for teachers.  School districts are forced to issue the notices before they have their budgets completed, causing many layoff notices to be sent than later rescinded, he said. He pointed to the Legislative Analyst Office's estimate that each notice costs more than $700.  

“What we have is a date that means nothing but it creates a lot of tension in our workforce,” Huff testified during today’s committee hearing. “I’ve heard teachers tell me that they’ve left the workforce because they can’t go through that emotional turmoil every year. This primarily affects the younger teachers, the same people we need to stay in this profession and not bail out when they are needed the most.”

Tom Mullin, human resources director for the Metropolitan Education District in San Jose, testified that the layoff process has cost his district thousands.

“In April of 2012, we were forced to initiate layoff notices on 32 teachers,” said Mullin during today’s hearing. “None of the teachers were ever laid off, but the noticing cost our district $29,000. That’s $29,000 that could have gone to classroom instruction.”

Huff's measure would have moved the notice deadlines to May 15 and June 15 respectively, as well as added flexibility so that the dates could be changed through negotiations between districts and teachers. 

Frank Wells, a California Teachers Association spokesman, said that moving the dates back would be a strain on teachers, not a help.

"The timelines proposed in SB 559 would be an undue hardship on teachers, giving some teachers just weeks to try and find a job after being given their final notice, and in all probability after most school districts would be done or nearly done hiring for the coming year," Wells said. "Part of the concerns the bill purported to address are in fact related to districts grossly overestimating the number of potential layoffs contrary to any reasonable budget analysis or projections. Changing deadlines wouldn’t stop that practice."

The more rosier picture for school funding means fewer notices will be necessary anyway, he said.

"Fortunately though, the long overdue turnaround in school funding will eliminate the widespread layoffs we’ve seen over the past several years and districts will be far more precise if they do have to downsize, even on a relatively small scale," he said.



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