State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff has introduced a bill that would push back the mandated deadlines for issuing preliminary and final layoff notices to teachers.
Huff, who represents Diamond Bar and Walnut, wants the deadlines for the pink slips extended so that school districts can have more information about the state budget before issuing the notices, he said.
Under current law, districts statewide must send preliminary layoff notices by March 15. Permanent layoff notices must be issued by May 15. Huff’s proposed Senate Bill 559 would move those dates to June 1 and Aug. 1 respectively.
The early deadlines cause districts to overestimate the amount of layoff notices they send to teachers, Huff said.
“We have to put an end to the practice of causing teachers to think they are going to lose their job, then turning around and telling them ‘never mind,’” Huff said in a news release. “It’s cruel. Everyone thinks their job is in jeopardy, which creates anxiety for the teachers’ families, students and communities.”
Huff recalled one year that Elk Grove Unified, one of California’s larger school districts, issued 445 pink slips, only to rescind them a couple of months later when officials had more information about the state budget.
In March, the Walnut Valley Unified School District issued 24 preliminary layoff notices. The district rescinded all of them in May.
Frank Wells, a California Teachers Association spokesman, said by email that his organization has not had a chance to review Huff’s bill and has not taken a formal position.
“However, we have opposed other attempts to move the deadline in the past as we do not believe it is ‘cruel’ to give teachers advance notice about the possibility of losing their jobs, and that it would be more cruel to lay teachers off with less notice and little time to seek employment in another district before the school year starts,” he said.
Huff said the proposal in his bill is a change the Legislative Analyst’s Office, an independent department, tasked with making fiscal policy suggestions to the governor, recommends.
In 2010, Ed Trust West reported that three of state’s largest districts rescinded 78 percent of the layoff notices issued, Huff said. The Legislative Analyst Office estimates that the notices cost the districts $706 per teacher, he added.
Dennis Meyers, the California School Boards Association’s assistant executive director of governmental relations, said his group has not studied Huff’s bill but generally favors pushing back the dates for layoff notices.
School districts tend to over notice at the March 15 preliminary date because they have to prepare, but they do so with virtually no information on the state budget, Meyers said.
By the May 15 date, districts know a bit more about the budget, but that is followed by the governor’s revise, he said.
Meyers added that he feels moving the deadlines is more teacher friendly than the way it is done now and would enable districts to make decisions based on a clearer budget picture.
“It causes so much turmoil in the lives of teachers and their families,” he said of the pink slips. “Your life is turned upside down”