On Feb. 19, the San Luis Coastal Unified School District started the process of eliminating 28 full-time staff positions to meet the district’s $6 million budget deficit. The cuts include all of its certified teacher-librarians and 11 elementary and secondary school counselors. Preliminary layoff notices will go out to affected employees before March 15.
The district might possibly find the money to retain some of these positions when it approves the budget in the coming weeks. However, waiting until then to tell the employees they might be out of a job would put the district on the wrong side of state notice requirements.
The situation reminded trustee Chris Unger of a similar budget crunch San Luis Coastal experienced in 2000, which also led to significant staff and program cuts. He voted to start the layoff process, but added that the decision made him feel sick.
“I was hoping that we would never have to do that again, but here we are,” Unger said. “The state pulled the rug out from under us.”
Several teachers came out in support of their colleagues, including Jim Nett of Laguna Middle School.
“The idea of seeing less people in these positions really scares me as a middle school teacher,” Nett said.
San Luis Coastal was the only district left in the county to keep certified teacher-librarians on staff. The district plans to replace the librarians with technicians to keep the libraries’ collections functioning, but students will no longer receive instruction on how to navigate their research.