San Bruno eyes school cuts, teacher layoffs

The San Bruno Park School District’s governing board discussed plans to lay off teachers and reduce their pay as part of an effort to balance the budget during Wednesday night’s meeting, which took place amid protest from teachers and parents.

The board is looking to cut $2.15 million from the budget for the 2015-16 school year, mostly by increasing class sizes to the maximum number of students allowed under the district’s contract with teachers. By increasing every single class in the district to 31 students per teacher, the district plans to reduce the number of teachers required to keep their schools running.

San Bruno Education Association president Julia Maynard, who teaches sixth grade English and history at Parkside Middle School said:

“They’re going to cut teachers and I’m assuming they would have to move students so all the classes are maxed out at 31-to-1.”

According to Wednesday’s meeting agenda, the district hopes to save an estimated $600,000 by consolidating K-8 classes and cutting eight teaching positions. An additional $700,000 in savings will come from the special education budget, which stands to lose five teaching positions.

District superintendent David Hutt said those numbers may be revisited. Documents indicate that special education classes in the district typically have 12 to 15 students per teacher. The district is looking at reducing the program costs associated with those students, according to Hutt.

Part of those savings are expected to come as a result of special education students leaving the district as they matriculate to higher grade levels, Hutt said:

“We have some eighth grade student-clients that will be moving on to the high school district. … Because we’re not (a) unified (district) those program costs will shift.”

The district initially talked about cutting three other positions, including a counselor, receptionist and part-time maintenance worker, but those cuts were taken off the list. Instead, they’re proposing a 1 percent pay cut to all employees district-wide, which would have to be negotiated with the teacher’s union before it can be implemented.

Maynard said:

“The last offer we were given was a 4.2 percent cut for the teachers. … They’re asking us to take less of a pay cut, but it’s still a pay cut after eight years of no raises.”

Maynard said the district is also cutting three days of professional development, which will reduce teacher pay by an additional 1.5 percent without negotiations. Maynard said because of the high cost of living, long-stagnant wages, proposed pay cuts and looming layoffs, some San Bruno teachers are being pushed to look for other work, including higher-paying jobs:

“Most of our teachers tutor on the side, baby-sit and do other things because we can’t make ends meet.”

The specifics of how the district will address its deficit were not finalized during Wednesday night’s meeting. The matter may not be decided until the days before March 15, when the district is obligated to send “pink slips,” or notices of intent to lay off specific employees for the coming year.

The next meeting of the San Bruno Park School District’s governing board is scheduled for March 11 at Crestmoor Elementary, 2322 Crestmoor Drive in San Bruno.