Record Number of Teacher Pink Slips Expected

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, March 12, 2009

California’s biggest teachers union says more than 26-thousand pink slips have already been handed out statewide.

Friday is the deadline for school districts to let teachers know they could be out of a job. 

Nikki Milevsky knows her layoff notice is coming.  But that doesn’t mean she’s ready for it:

“Since  I’ve been with the district for quite some time and I’m quite high in seniority, it was quite a shock.”

Milevsky’s been a school psychologist in the Sacramento City Unified District for about eight years.   She says she’s never seen a situation quite like this:

 “Support staff is cut by 90 percent.  The psychologists, the nurses, social workers, counselors, music teachers – all will be gone.”

Outside Milevsky’s office at Nicholas Elementary, students are cheerful as they head home for the day.  But Milevsky says many kids are struggling with fears about their parents’ jobs – and the future – and they need extra support.  She says with hundreds of layoff notices district wide, teachers are afraid, too:

Everyone’s being professional in front of the kids and trying not to think about it, but you know in the back of their minds you can see it in their eyes, they’re thinking, how am I going to take care of my kids and how am I going to pay my mortgage.”

Milevsky’s husband is an art teacher in a nearby district – so they’re worried on both fronts.  She won’t know for sure whether she’ll actually be laid off for months.  It may depend in part on federal economic stimulus funds headed to California schools.  State Schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell:

“The economic stimulus money is going to help.  It’s really a lifeline.  It’s going to help us temporarily be able to continue to fund public education.”

O’Connell says California should get about eight billion dollars in federal money over the next two years.  But it’s not enough to make up for billions in cuts to schools in the state budget.  And it’s one-time money.  But O’Connell does expect it will help districts avoid some layoffs.