Friday, May 30, 2008 | In March, fellow teachers shrugged at the layoff warnings that alarmed Mark Mathewson, a former information technology worker who quit a higher-paying job four years ago to teach elementary school in San Diego.
They’d seen it all before in 2003: Dire warnings of severe, statewide cuts to schools. The ensuing stream of layoff warnings to employees. Furious outcry from parents and unions. And the eventual cancellation of the dreaded layoffs — or most of them — as California lawmakers retreated from their budgeting plans and reduced cuts to schools.
The Cost of Erased Layoffs
But to Mathewson, it was new and troubling. He rallied outside the San Diego Unified school board and penned an editorial in the Union-Tribune. Two months later, his layoff notice still stood. Mathewson decided to abandon teaching. A former boss, alerted by Mathewson’s editorial that his job was in jeopardy, has interviewed him for a technology job.
Less than two weeks later, San Diego Unified had cancelled layoff notices for more than 600 employees after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a new budget proposal that restored some funding to California schools. Mathewson’s job was spared. But the school district has already lost him.
Driving away employees such as Mathewson is just one cost of a layoff process that drains schools of time, money and morale. Even as school districts across the county backtrack on many planned layoffs, they have already paid thousands of dollars to hold hearings where employees contest their dismissals, and poured uncounted hours into sending layoff warnings and compiling seniority lists.