• A hallway with lighting fictures in the ceiling and a door with PUSD logo on it

      Pasadena Unified School District building (Photo – Staff)

      Note: PUSD has provided updated information prior to tonight’s meeting. (See link).

      At about 10:00 pm this past Friday evening, Pasadena Unified sent out an email titled “An Important Message Regarding Budget Changes and Staffing.” These changes will be implemented this coming Thursday evening. The board is slated to approve reductions of 70 certificated staff and 65 classified staff at its February 22, 2024, board meeting.

      By News Desk

      In recent months the board approved (or offered) double-digit salary and benefit raises for the current year for all of its staff. These layoffs reflect the need to fund those raises and also the need to adjust for declines in enrollment-based revenue, and they also anticipate reductions in state funding in 2024-25 and beyond because of the decrease in revenues for the state, which provides the great majority of funding for the schools.

      Recent raises in salary and benefits for PUSD employee groups

      This past November, the district and its teachers’ union agreed to a financial package worth $12.84 million in ongoing costs to the district. It consisted of a 10% across-the-board raise in salaries for all unit members retroactive to July 1, 2023, about 1% in district-absorbed increased health and welfare benefit costs for the 2023-24 year, and a $500 increase in stipends for all special education teachers. This was the second consecutive year of a 10% annual raise, and brought the three-year raises for most teachers to nearly 28%.

      Last month, the district offered its classified employee union a similar package worth $3.14 million in ongoing costs to the district, with an identical 10% across the board raise and 1.7% in district-absorbed increased health and welfare benefits.

      At its meeting this Thursday evening, an agreement with its administrators association is slated for approval.  Its ongoing cost is listed as $3.66 million. It contains the identical 10% across the board raise and other enhancements that bring the total increase in salary costs for this year for supervisors and management to 11.31%, plus about 11.08% increase in district-absorbed retirement costs and other statutory benefits.

      The district also has a maintenance and operations union that will receive a similar package. The total ongoing cost of the increased salary and benefit packages that will be approved for this year will thus be over $20 million.

      The math is about the same

      When one uses an estimated cost of roughly $150,000 in salary and benefits for an average certificated employee, 70 positions equate to $10.5 million. Using an estimated cost of $100,000 in salary and benefits for an average classified employee, 65 positions equate to $6.5 million.

      That’s a total of $17 million using rough estimates. The correlation between the amount saved by these reductions and the increases in employee salaries and benefits and other rising costs is nearly one-to-one.

      Which positions will be cut?

      Based on the position titles listed, the certificated layoff resolution contains an estimated 58 school-based positions and 12 central office positions. The classified layoff resolution contains an estimated 46 school-based positions and 19 central office positions. The certificated school-based positions include 3.2 counselors, 1 librarian, 2.5 resource teachers, 7.2 teachers on special assignment, 3.9 career technical education teachers, 2.6 middle school teachers, 11.8 elementary teachers and 5 special education teachers. An additional 3.9 high school and 4.9 middle school positions which are vacant/unassigned would be eliminated from the budget. The classified school-based positions include 4 behavior specialists, 2 clerk typists, 4 clinical social workers, 2 community liaison specialists, 3 computer repair technicians, 1 data control clerk, 1 data control technician, 1 registrar, 4 security officers, 1 electro-mechanical repair technician, 1 fire alarm technician, 2 health clerks, 10 instructional aides, 4 library coordinators, 1 licensed clinical social worker, 1 occupational therapist, 1 transitional kindergarten assistant, and 1 truancy intervention and prevention specialist.

      Which employees would ultimately be laid off?

      Many of the employees in these positions have what are known as retreat rights based on their seniority and their union contracts. If they are employees laid off from non-school-based positions, they would have a right to return to school-site positions. This would displace other school-based employees who have less seniority from those positions. The district is in the process of notifying the affected employees that they would receive a layoff notice. An administrative law judge would have to approve the final seniority-based list to be laid off from PUSD employment.


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      Contributor

      Comments

      1. Stanley Jamerson says:

        I grew up in Pasadena in the 50’s. I hate to see the layoffs.

      2. Vanessa E. says:

        Feeling that the district mentioning the Covid dollars as one of the reasons they are cutting staff is irresponsible and an unacceptable excuse. This money was temporary. If this money was not used appropriately, this is what happens. That said, declining enrollment is not entirely in their control. However, we rely on the district to make the best decisions for our children and staff and forecasting is one of them. I am sure there is historical data and its not hard to predict these outcomes. This seems to be a pattern over the decades, and hope leadership will step it up by learning from these lessons.

      3. Stephanie Pinto says:

        Can someone unpack that last paragraph more, please? Is that saying that retreat-rights employees who are not currently at a school can point to a school that will then have to layoff someone to make room for them? How many of these protected positions are there? This in essence means more layoffs at schools?

      4. Audrey B. says:

        Please don’t lay off any employee’s! We need more staff at Pusd because calls be delayed when calling any of the office’s and when parents have concerns about something going on with their child or at school; noone is able to get back with the parent or parents right away. If Pusd can do more fundraising and have more parents to volunteer than it would be better and higher recommend for the District. Initially promoting the schools and the school district within it self will help keep staff members. I do have faith that this could be a possible outcome solution.

      5. T. W. says:

        That’s a lot of positions to fund those raises. And it looks like the great majority of them are not vacant. Says only 9 teachers of the 70 certificated positions are vacant. Probably an equally small percentage of the classified are vacant. So that’s a lot of employees, affected, probably like 110-120 employees total. Certainly over 100 employees. I wonder if the district has ever laid off more than 100 employees in a year before. Doubt it.

      6. Dawn D Smith says:

        Declining enrollment impacts districts. Class sizes will increase. Dollars only go so far! So sad that we do not value public education in California. As a victim of Prop 13, I am upset and as the parent of two educators, even more so.

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