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After Vote That Could Lay Off 224 School District Staff, Interim Superintendent Hopes to “Save Some Positions”

Published on Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 5:37 am

Pasadena Unified School District Interim Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Blanco said in an email on Friday that District staff hopes to save some of the 224 positions designated last week for layoffs by the Pasadena Board of Education.

On Thursday, the Board implemented part of a fiscal stability plan required by the Los Angeles County Office of Education by authorizing District staff to issue preliminary layoff notices for 224 Pasadena Unified School District positions before March 15.

Blanco said 91 — nearly half — of the positions are currently vacant.

“Our hope is that we can save some positions before the statutory deadline for final layoff notices in mid-May,” Blanco wrote in a Friday email.

The reductions are necessary, Blanco said, because of the lapsing of one-time COVID-19 funding (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief), the decline in District enrollment and expected reductions in state funding,

Estimates of California’s escalating budget shortfall vary, with the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office projecting a deficit of $73 billion and Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget estimating a shortfall of $38 billion.

“Like many school Districts in California, Pasadena Unified School District is facing major budget challenges over the next three years that must be addressed beginning with the 2024-2025 school year. As we have seen by California’s worsening fiscal conditions, the situation for education funding continues to change. Pasadena Unified School District will be adjusting to ongoing State budget developments in the coming months, and we will keep you informed,” Blanco said.

Blanco said, “We have done our best to keep reductions away from students and schools by ‘making the biggest reduction of 30% to central offices.'”

The Board approved the preliminary layoff notices by a 4-3 vote.

Board President Kimberly Kenne, District 6 Board Member Tina Fredericks, and District 7 Board Member Dr. Yarma Velázquez voted against the resolutions.

“This is a complicated and emotional topic,” Board Member Tina Fredericks said.

“[The layoffs] feel a bit crude. There are positions that serve our most vulnerable kids. If we are going to cut equally, that is inequitable….please explain to me how this is not going to disproportionately affect our BIPOC communities or foster youth… Are we affecting our socially economically disadvantaged kids, our homeless?… I want this list to be as short as possible to minimize having to lose really great staff.”

Fredericks had initially moved to delay the vote, but her motion failed.

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