Better Economy, More Taxes Means Fewer CA Teacher Pink Slips

Thanks to revenue from voter-approved tax measures and the strengthening economy, the number of teachers in California who are facing a pink slip is dropping, Woodland’s Daily Democrat reports. Last year nearly 22,000 teachers received preliminary pink slips before the March 15 deadline for such notification. In contrast, only 2,900 received the bad news this year.

Although preliminary pink slips don’t automatically mean a job is lost, because of notification requirements districts always send out a number of these to give themselves room in case the final revenue numbers don’t meet estimates and job cuts need to be made. The recent uncertainties over the passage of tax measures as well as as the economic instability meant that the state sent out an unusually large number of those since 2008, though most end up being rescinded.

After years of teacher layoffs that led to larger class sizes, the outlook for California schools has brightened because of the economic recovery and the November passage of Proposition 30, which temporarily increases the state sales tax and raises taxes on high-income earners. Since 2008, the state’s teacher workforce has declined by 8.5 percent to about 284,000 educators today, according to the California Department of Education. After voters approved his tax measure in November, Gov. Jerry Brown in January proposed a state budget that boosts K-12 funding by 4 percent next school year, according the state Legislative Analyst’s Office.

President of the California Teachers Association – the union that represents about 95% of educators in the state – Dean Vogel said that when there are fewer questions about education budgets, school districts are better able to plan thus reducing the number of pink slips. In Sacramento, the economic improvement and the better budget outlook resulted in the fact that fewer than 350 teachers received pink slips this year. Last year 1,700 were issued, and in the year before, the city sent out 2,500.

Jonathan Raymond, the Superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District said that he expects that natural teacher attrition will be in excess of the number of position the district needs to shed in order to meet its budget numbers. He added that this could mean that for the first time in a long time, the district could be in a position to hire rather than fire instructors.

Katie Rector, a Sacramento elementary school teacher, said for the first time in her five-year career, she avoided a layoff warning she had come to expect every spring. She lived with uncertainty each summer before being rehired just a few days before school began.

“It was very frustrating, never knowing what is going to happen,” Rector said. “I had to calm myself down. Not knowing in the summer is very, very scary.”

This cheerier picture of education hiring could be an additional good news for teachers across the country on top of the report that the education layoffs estimated to take place as a result of the sequester are going to be fewer in number than expected.