This post has been updated.

Nearly 200 more employees will be laid off by the San Diego Unified School District on top of the 1,500-plus layoffs already approved for next school year, according to union representatives.

The new cuts – which will go to the school board for approval Tuesday – include all 40-plus library technicians, 16 mental health clinicians, bus drivers and other non-teaching employees and support staff.

“I just think it’s unconscionable they can say they are keeping the cuts away from the classroom. They’re not,” said Sylvia Alvarez, president of the union that represents 1,400 office-technical and business services employees. “They want to talk about graduation rates, then they cut the whole dropout prevention program … Do you care about all the kids, or just some of the kids?”

“The libraries, that’s ridiculous. … There are a lot of our students who don’t have a computer at home who have to use the library and look for that assistance and now they won’t have that,” she added.

Alvarez’s employee group was already facing 219 cuts, including 12 out of 14 special education occupational therapy assistants and 16 out of 19 tech-support employees. She said another 82 full-time jobs will be lost.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Her frustration is shared by Lance Wren, president of the 2,600-member union that represents transportation, custodial, maintenance and food workers, among others. Wren’s group will lose another 102 employees on top of the 130 already scheduled to be cut.

“Even though they’ll tell you they are making cuts as far from the classroom as possible, that is not true,” said Wren. “I don’t care if you’re a groundskeeper. … You provide a service to the students.”

Wren said 62 out of 372 bus drivers are now expected to be cut.

Thanks to “the cuts over in maintenance, they are not going to be able to maintain the busses. That’s a safety issue. We’ve asked about a plan and we are getting no answers,” Wren said.

The district’s projected $124.4 million budget gap hasn’t changed in recent weeks, so why are additional cuts being made now?

Wren said it’s a result of concessions his union wasn’t willing to make, including a loss of 14 work days during student breaks, times when custodians usually to do a deep cleaning.

The reduction would have equaled a 5 percent pay cut.

District spokeswoman Shari Winet confirmed Friday the school board will be asked to approve an additional 190 employee layoffs on Tuesday.

“These solutions are replacement cuts — replacing several solutions proposed in February,” Winet said in a statement. “None of the solutions being proposed will raise maximum class sizes and changes are being kept as far away from the classroom as possible.”

Winet said teachers are responding well to an early retirement incentive, which “should reduce the number of layoffs, although the results of this program will not likely be known until May.”

District negotiations with the unions will continue April 27.

“This district is taking in millions upon millions of dollars that my union went out and fought for,” said Wren, referring to Prop. 55, a statewide measure passed in November that extended certain income tax raises to fund education. “I believe they went out and wasted the money, myself. It’s about mismanagement.”

Alvarez said her union also didn’t agree to a 10- to 14-day work-year reduction sought by the district.

Some employees earn “$1,200 a month. You cut 11 days a year, that’s substantial,” she said.

“They are really targeting classified. We know they can’t take teachers out of the classroom, but there are other departments,” Alvarez said. “There are six HR officers. With all of these cuts, why do they still need that many? I don’t know.”

Sabrina Hahnlein, who represents the district’s paraeducators, a group that includes noon duty workers, special needs assistants and child development center workers, said she’s not clear whether her employees will see more cuts than already planned.

All three union presidents plan to speak about the job losses at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting.

San Diego Unified plans to spend $1.4 billion this school year to serve 100,000 students, or $100 million more than it expects to receive in the general fund.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of library technicians facing layoffs. It is more than 40, not 14.

    This article relates to: Corrections, Education, Must Reads, School Finances, School Leadership

    Written by Ashly McGlone

    Ashly is an investigative reporter for Voice of San Diego. She can be reached at ashly.mcglone@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5669.

    21 comments
    john stump
    john stump subscriber

    Don't get too excited about this year's layoffs, we have not hit rock bottom yet!  The future is even bleaker.  School labor leaders still think that higher taxes or a magic Sacramento bail out will save them.


    City Schools is going through the death and dying cycle first Denial, then Pleading & Bargaining, and eventually Acceptance.  Recovery is sometime down the road.  Perhaps that may require Bankruptcy, State Supervision, or Reorganization to essentially a Full Charter Schools District.


    The public certainty will require a significant reform of the failed at large election system for School Board.  The current system lacks community accountability, campaign contribution and term limits, and most of the other progressive good government reforms instituted everywhere else in the last 100 years.

    Noplace Forhate
    Noplace Forhate

    Why so many layoffs? No one on the school board knows math?

    DistrictDeeds wordpress com
    DistrictDeeds wordpress com subscriber

    Good to see that the VOSD has finally decided to report close to the 1,783 layoff number we reported 7 weeks ago on District Deeds.


    Better late than never I guess.

    Oscar Ramos
    Oscar Ramos subscribermember

    How is it that surrounding school districts aren't shedding staff like San Diego Unified? What are San Dieguito and Sweetwater doing right that SDUSD is getting so wrong?

    Noplace Forhate
    Noplace Forhate

    @Oscar Ramos San Dieguito and Sweetwater also have the 2 best payscales for teachers out of all the school districts in SD county

    john stump
    john stump subscriber

    @Elmer Walker @Noplace Forhate @Oscar Ramos Typical greedy off topic questions about how can some other school district have higher top pay than City Schools.  What's relevant is what is the total cost or compensation package for elementary teachers, high school teachers, and specialized teachers by type of school district in different community contexts.  


    Focusing merely on the top of the range pay for some exceptional circumstances is like a comparison of automobile costs by focusing on Teslas and Bentleys rather than the median or mode Honda Civic best rated cars.  You can't make a valid comparison mixing elementary or high school districts with "unified" school districts.


    Next a valid apples to apples comparison includes the top of the table and under the table pay for each school district -Salary and Fringe total package as cost to taxpayers.  Some school districts pay more in salary but less in fringe or the other way around - like SDUSD.


    The real comparison has to be made in context with each community.  Compensation in high cost of living communities versus low cost of living areas will differ.  The package for Hawaii will differ from Alaska or San Diego from National City. 


    The real objective measure of comparison is the multiple of the median teacher's compensation to the median family income.  City Schools teachers receive about 2 times the median family income for their work.


    If you want to validly source your statistics first get the median compensation from the school district's CAFR, used to sell public bonds, and then compare it to the Census statistics for the community's median family, of four,  income.  


    City Schools budget crisis is a lot like the bankruptcy of many american automobile companies, management allowed costs to exceed the market and had products and services that did not match the market.  There are serious education delivery problems at City Schools that have built up by accretion.  Little by little barnacles build up on the bottom of the boat and make it slower and more costlier to operate.


    The City Schools professional leadership are good talented folks but they are frustrated by trying to compete in the America's Cup with an old barnacled bottomed boat.  Luckily we have well established techniques to refurbish, renew, and reorganise.  City Schools needs a complete refitting and we are just in the initial stages of that recovery process.  

    Oscar Ramos
    Oscar Ramos subscribermember

    @john stump @Elmer Walker @Noplace Forhate @Oscar Ramos My question wasn't about salary ranges. I'm simply wondering, as the parent of a potential future SDUSD student, what decisions SD Unified have made that have resulted in such drastically different outcomes than its neighboring districts. We're not even in a recession and the district is already deep in the hole. What in the world are they going to do when the next downturn comes? 


    I'm not interested in comparing teacher salaries to the surrounding community (for the sake of transparency, I'm a Preuss teacher), since we don't do that for most other professional positions. However, I do agree that we need to have an apples to apples comparison of our local districts' financials, including salaries, benefits, retirement costs, enrollment, etc.  

    John Porter
    John Porter subscriber

    So sad.  I've been in  education for 35 years, and every year the budget got tighter.  If I was starting out again, I would avoid education, as there is no future in it.  It would take 10 years to build up enough seniority  to feel secure that I would be employed the next year.  During that time, I would be starting a family and trying to buy a house.  Of course, many young perspective teachers are bailing out and choosing another line of work .  The teacher shortage has begun, and will not get better.  The sad fact is that the public doesn't value education enough to fund it properly.

    Catherine Derecki
    Catherine Derecki

    The cuts to school psychologists is emblematic of how SD Unified regards its emotionally challenged children. We will not live in the district because our son is special needs and SD Unified already has a bad reputation for accommodations for emotional disabilities. Why, of all things to cut, does mental health come first? Shame on them.

    Elmer Walker
    Elmer Walker subscriber

    The Board of Education, the District management staff, and the teachers Union insisted on giving multiple raises, even when they new the money was going to run out. Now they are going to have lay offs because the money is running out. How o we let so many people with poor judgement get into a position of power? The solution is obvious, the taxpayers will believe the cries for help and have another tax increase. The taxpayers ALWAYS believe educators when it comes to their school age children.

    Elmer Walker
    Elmer Walker subscriber

    @Xpekto Patronum @Elmer Walker You sound like a good union member and defend the system. Your facts need to be checked. You also should have some courage in your convictions and use you real name like I did.

    philip piel
    philip piel subscriber

    @Xpekto Patronum @Elmer Walker What a great point of view, The SDUSD Board of Directors is a who's who of  union labor bosses / activist. Funny how mismanagement and lies by the district are fine as long as the tax payers foot the bill yet all hell breaks loose when union members feel the affects of horrible leadership by the same people they endorsed.

    Teachers are a victim of their union's actions nothing more. The SDUSD board gifted all school construction work to union labor by denying local workers opportunity for the sole reason they didn't purchase a union card. The teachers union backed this. Tell me again who the real victims are here, if you didn't answer students and tax payers you should probably read up on this issue a little...

    got2read
    got2read subscriber

    @Elmer Walker Too bad that they are going to lay off the lowest-paid workers. That is just to bully them into taking a pay cut. Imagine a two week cut in pay for a worker bringing home less than $2000/month? That's going to be life-changing.

    got2read
    got2read subscriber

    @philip piel @Xpekto Patronum @Elmer Walker It won't be the teachers who lose positions. It will be classified workers: the everyday people who keep our schools safe, clean and running smoothly in the face of ever-increasing cuts in staffing. We don't have a per pupil formula either. We are paid the same whether we serve 200 or 2,000 students. Yes, the problem is mismanagement of the District's budget. That is in no way our choice. We are just the poor stiffs who take the brunt of the fall out.


    philip piel
    philip piel subscriber

    @got2read @Elmer Walker Excuse me for a minute while I take some violin lessons so I can play some background music. Take a look at your union's political endorsements, this is your system not ours. You demand accountability from tax payers yet spend dues money getting the same union hacks elected / appointed then cry "foul" when the so called "Champions of the middle class"  put the screws to you over and over.

    There is plenty of money in Public Education, it's being spent on layers and layers of special interest agenda. 

    got2read
    got2read subscriber

    @philip piel @got2read @Elmer Walker You are making a lot of assumptions there. SDUSD is a closed shop and union membership is the price of employment. It doesn't mean we all agree with the ideology. I'm not demanding accountability from the tax payers. I am the tax payer. I'm demanding accountability from the school board. They were elected by the tax payers and should have some sense of fiscal responsibility. If you are a voted for any of them, then you have some responsibility as well. Don't assume that I voted for any of them or that I have any say about how the union spends dues. I just want to do the work I love and serve the students. I'm am caught in a political game that is not of my choosing. I could go to work somewhere else, but I won't abandon our children to this broken system. It's the students who suffer in the end.



    Xpekto Patronum
    Xpekto Patronum

    @Elmer Walker I am not sure what you are implying in your last line. The mismanagement lies with the district management staff and the board. If you look at the history and the budget, the board/district has been grossly incorrect in budget predictions. Last year their budget prediction was off by 48%. The previous year it was off by 94%! Who knows how far off it is for this year. They have already admitted that they have over pink-slipped teachers, and yet, they have now issued more pink slips and are pitting teachers against classified staff. They have completely and illegally violated the already in place contract in at least three different ways. They are definitely NOT keeping their decisions out of the classroom because they are eliminating ALL enrichment programs in the elementary schools and dozens of electives at the middle school and high school levels. As for the raise that was implemented not that long ago....teachers had been without a raise for a very long time, BUT, the districts mismanagement of funds and budgets and opening up of new district departments that do not directly effect the classroom seem to continue to be an issue. Why did they agree to the raise if they knew that this was going to be an issue. They will turn it around now and try to rest the blame on the teachers and this raise.