Tight budgets might not cost teachers their jobs

Teachers in most school districts in San Mateo County will not lose their jobs now that school officials have finagled tight budgets squeezed by looming state cuts.

But that does not mean class sizes won’t grow, school officials warned.

Districts are beginning to grapple with what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revised budget, released Wednesday, means for their coffers. Today is also the deadline for school districts to notify certified teachers whether they will be laid off before next school year.

A total of 14,000 teachers in California were given warning notifications of possible layoffs by March, according to the California Teachers Association.

However, many school districts in San Mateo County reported that they were able to rescind most of these notifications before today’s deadline for final notification because enough teachers retired or moved.

Cabrillo Unified School District, which serves 3,100 Half Moon Bay students, had issued three layoff notifications, but was able to rescind all three due to retirements, said John Corry, the district’s director of personnel and student services.

Belmont-Redwood Shores School District handed out nine notifications, but only three teachers were given final notices. Redwood City School District handed out 37 but retained all of its teachers. San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District handed out five but sent only two final notices.

Corry said that although layoffs have been avoided, there is no guarantee that class sizes won’t increase because the total number of teachers may be reduced. He said class sizes wouldn’t outgrow state limits, but they wouldn’t likely be much below them.

But even that is uncertain because the governor’s revised budget proposal — which seems to make fewer cuts to education — is much different than the one he proposed in January.

On Wednesday, hundreds of teachers across the county protested the cuts along El Camino Real. About 80 teachers from the San Mateo Union High School District carried placards at the intersection of El Camino Real and Third Avenue in San Mateo.

“The uncertainty is what is most concerning to our district,” special-education teacher Michael Cadigan said. “We had a huge cutback two years ago, where we lost 12 teachers and 38 teachers, and that happened six weeks into the school year. We don’t want to see that happen again.”

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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