Lucia Mar Unified School District to consider final layoffs

The Lucia Mar school board will consider tonight giving final layoff notices to 73 teachers, counselors and administrators — close to the same number of employees who received initial layoff notices in March.

The board at a later meeting may also discuss whether to lay off nearly two dozen classified employees, including bus drivers, custodians and computer lab and physical education assistants.

Doing so would save Lucia Mar Unified School District’s general fund budget an estimated $2.3 million. Board trustees will consider a draft budget June 15.

Officials at Lucia Mar — San Luis Obispo County’s largest school district — expect to cut $5 million in expenses in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Those cuts would amount to 9.6 percent of this year’s $52 million budget.

Additional reductions — from cutting the sports budget to reducing summer school programs — could save another $1.3 million, according to Superintendent Jim Hogeboom’s recommendations to district trustees.

Hogeboom recommends reducing the sports budget by 20 percent, or $153,812. Last year, it was cut by $100,000.

The district could also drop the amount of money it sets aside for maintenance by about $500,000. That would “cut the heart out of the maintenance department” and may affect how it maintains 23 district-owned properties, said Mary Stark, deputy superintendent of business.

In a memo to trustees, Hogeboom wrote that he hopes to bring in money next academic year with more Saturday school dates. This year, the district recouped about $94,000, before expenses, from its Saturday school efforts.

Saturday school lets students who have been absent make up a day and allows the district to recoup average daily attendance funding from the state.

District officials will get a better idea of their financial future after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger releases his budget update, which is expected Friday.

“I sincerely hope we are able to rescind many of these layoffs, but it is just too early to tell,” Hogeboom wrote in a memo to district trustees last week. “It is my opinion that if the district does have to lay off all these positions, the impact on our students would be absolutely devastating.”

Per state law, teachers and other credentialed staff must receive final notices by the end of this week, while classified employees must receive a 45-day notice.

In March, the board voted to send initial layoff notices to 98 credentialed employees, including 21 who were included on a precautionary basis. The final notices will go out to 73 employees, but equals 66.9 full-time-equivalent positions.

The number of final layoff notices has decreased slightly because four employees will retire at the end of the school year, three others have resigned and one elementary school teacher died last week after being diagnosed last year with an undisclosed illness.

Of those positions, three will not be filled, said Michelle Ellis, assistant superintendent of human resources. The district expects to receive further resignations or retirements, she said.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.