What to Know
- An accounting mistake led to a $4 million deficit at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
- In September, the district was on track to be $30 million in debt by the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
- District officials were collaborating with union leadership to revise the 2018 budget, with guidance from the County Board of Education.
Close to 100 teachers will be retiring from the Sweetwater Union High School District this month with an additional 50 retiring at the end of the school year, the teachers union told NBC 7 Thursday.
A total of 300 district employees agreed to take the early retirement offer. Those include certified and classified employees.
The district recently made cuts to fill a $30 million budget gap. Along with offering eligible employees incentives to retire early, the district added two work furlough days for employees.
The County Office of Education, which is in charge of making sure school districts can pay their bills, approved the district’s revised budget that was submitted last month.
The approval comes with conditions, including sending a financial adviser to help the district.
Sweetwater Education Association President Gene Chavira said 144 certified employees including teachers and counselors have taken the option for early retirement. Of those, 94 will leave at the end of 2018. The remaining 50 will leave at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, Chavira said.
Sweetwater Union High School District spokesperson Manny Rubio said the district does not have exact numbers about who took the option for early retirement and when those retirements would take effect.
He also said it was not a done deal and that the SUHSD Board of Trustees has to give final approval at a meeting on Monday, Dec. 17.
Rubio said the district is working with an outside company to determine the real-time cost savings of the move to decide if it's worthwhile. The results from that analysis could come by Friday or early next week.
New teachers will be hired to replace those retiring.
The idea of teachers leaving their students in the middle of the school year is concerning some parents.
"I don't know what the impact is going to be, whether or not there are some teachers that the kids are happy to get rid of," parent Jacinto Perez said. 'But I think the majority of teachers are probably well established and the kids are gonna miss those teachers that they're already working with."
Chavira said he's confident in his teachers' ability to get students over that hurdle.
"When a semester ends, there's always that possibility that students will come back to a different teacher anyway. I'm pretty confident that all the teachers that we have here are good teachers and prepared to take on new students," he said.
Chavira estimates a new teacher will earn between $50,000 and $60,000 annually.
A veteran teacher with tenure in the district could earn up to $100,000, Chavira said.
There are more than 2,000 teachers in the district, according to the SUHSD spokesperson.
The district serves an estimated 40,000 students in 28 schools including 11 middle schools, 13 high schools and four alternative education sites.