In an attempt to prepare for the worst, the Eastern Sierra Unified School District Board approved a resolution to send pink slips to every certificated employee in the District at its Feb. 15 meeting. The drastic move had never been tried before, according to Board President Doug Northington, but was something that the Board felt was necessary to avoid the utter chaos that occurred last year when the Board, expecting a $250,000 shortfall in its budget, ended up with a more than $2 million deficit instead.
“We are doing something totally different this year so that we aren’t coming up with a plan in two hours,” Northington explained to the public, referring to last year’s fiasco.
With the State’s budget just as unstable as it was last year, there are no guarantees about what schools will or will not receive in terms of funding. Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a June Special Election where he would hope to bring a ballot measure to the voters asking them to extend temporary increases in the state’s sales, income and vehicle taxes for five years. If the Special Election is allowed to go through (so far Republicans are not buying into it, but the Legislator has until March to make a final decision), and if voters approve the measure, schools are expected to be saved from further cuts this year. However, with so much still undetermined, ESUSD is looking at all options for how they may have to proceed.
Pink slipping all the certificated staff does not mean all or any of the positions would end up actually being laid off, it just gives the Board the flexibility to use layoffs as an option to make up budget deficits if they should arise.
“As one Board member, I promise to do my utmost to make sure teachers aren’t laid off and that the cuts come from elsewhere,” Northington told the disappointed public after the Board’s unanimous vote to approve the resolution.
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