By Tim Hunt
District layoffs are routine for temp employeesUploaded: Feb 25, 2016
Express headlines this week have talked about layoffs in the Pleasanton school district.
The writer is accurate, but there is one key element missing. The district is laying off employees because the state is not renewing a ONE-TIME grant. It would be appropriate to ask why the district was using one-time money for employees in positions that should be ongoing. Using one-time funds for special projects that end when the funds end is appropriate and smart—so is spending the money on equipment and materials.
Using one-time money for personnel is an inherent gamble regardless of the economy.
Incidentally, laying off temporary employees is pretty much standard procedure. The burdensome rules to eliminate a full-time tenured employee make the temporary hire the best approach for teachers. It’s some of those provisions that has the district leadership sending out layoff notices in March when the district budget will not be set until the state passes its spending plan in June. That more three-month lag invites prudent administrators to routinely send out layoff notices and then re-hire staff when the budget is set.
This year, school district budgets across the state should be relatively flush. If you assume the governor’s budget, as presented in January, looks similar in May when he will submit a revised plan to the Legislature, then school districts statewide will be in excellent shape.
The governor’s proposed budget allocates almost $72 billion to k-12 education—that’s up a staggering 51 percent since the depths of the recession impact in 2011-12. Per student spending would average $14,500, up about $366 from the current year. Pleasanton, as a wealthy suburban district with a low population of disadvantaged student, will not receive the extra funds that will go to districts in Oakland or Richmond, but it certainly will not go backward as it did post-recession.
It’s tough to believe the district would have any cries of poor mouth. Leaders need to live with decisions made by their predecessors and be straight with the community instead of trying to convince the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education and other donors that there is a “need” for those programs. If there’s a need, budget for it with the increased cash from the state.
Compared to the San Ramon Valley district, the teachers’ union and district have settled on pretty modest pay packages for this year. So, there should be cash available for programs and personnel that are deemed necessary.