Fewer California teachers found pink slips in their mailboxes this week, but that was scant solace for Denair Unified teachers.
May 15 is the deadline for final notice to teachers of a layoff. March 15 is the date that warning notices must be given.
The financially strapped Denair district sent notices to 13 teachers, Interim Superintendent Walt Hanline said. Many of them went to junior high or high school teachers losing a portion of their teaching day. Hanline said the cuts added up to the equivalent of about 6½ full-time positions.
"Each of these individuals have the right to work as hourly teachers in our charter program and to sub for our district," Hanline said. Denair has an individual study charter and a longer-day elementary charter school.
Modesto City Schools laid off three career classes teachers, with a fourth taking a part-time post teaching a regular course, said Superintendent Pam Able.
Riverbank Unified laid off one teacher, as did the Valley Home Joint Elementary District.
The Stanislaus County Office of Education laid off three special education teachers. Two, however, will move to a north Modesto district and the third took a part-time position in Patterson Unified, said county office administrator Barbara Tanner.
Sylvan Union Elementary in north Modesto sent out a raft of what were essentially paper layoffs.
Some 40 pink slips went to Sylvan temporary teachers who provide extra help to struggling students, said Debra Hendricks, Sylvan's head of human resources. However, 10 will start next year as permanent Sylvan teachers and the rest were rehired in similar posts for next year, Hendricks said.
Wednesday's deadline for school districts to hand out layoff notices to educators ended this year with about 1,256 members of the California Teachers Association receiving final pink slips about half of what the union had projected, according to President Dean Vogel. The union says it represents about 95 percent of K-12 teachers.
The actual number of teachers who lose their jobs will decrease through the summer as districts rehire teachers as more money becomes available or other teachers retire or leave the district.
Across Merced County, only three teachers got the notices, according to superintendents' responses.
"We are laying off one teacher due to a lower than expected (kindergarten) enrollment. If the numbers come up, we will bring this individual back," said Delhi Unified Superintendent Brian Stephens.
Two part-time teachers were laid off from Livingston schools, said Livingston Union Elementary Superintendent Andrés Zamora.
Other Merced districts reported no layoffs.
"Happy to report zero. In fact, we are hiring! Happy days in Atwater," said Atwater Elementary Superintendent Melinda Hennes.
After struggling through years of layoffs, California schools have started to reverse course thanks to voter-approved taxes and economic recovery.
While support workers such as secretaries and custodians need only a 60-day notice to be laid off, schools overall have indicated they expect to lay off fewer of those employees.
The CTA's Vogel attributes the turnaround to voter-approved Proposition 30, which helps fund education, and to districts that have relaxed their grip on reserves as the budget picture has improved.
The union president says it is too early to celebrate. Despite the increase in education funding, he believes schools are still underfunded. "We are still looking at class sizes that are over 30 just about everywhere. There is still a lot of work that has to be done."
Since 2008, California has lost 8.5 percent of its teacher work force, going from 310,361 to 283,836, according to the California Department of Education.