In an 11th hour decision, the San Diego Unified School Board voted Tuesday to table more layoffs and go back to negotiating.
On the chopping block were 200 classified employee positions, including classroom teaching assistants, bus drivers and custodians.
The school board played to a packed house Tuesday evening. Most people in the gallery were California School Employee Association (CSEA) members.
They are feeling most vulnerable with the impending $124 million deficit the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) is facing. There were several emotional pleas at the meeting from audience members to get the board to reconsider.
CSEA members argued they are the backbone of the district--from the moment students step on the school bus to when they arrive back home.
Outside the district headquarters, more than 100 members rallied before the meeting, protesting the layoffs.
"Schools are expected to operate with fewer teachers, occupational therapists counselors, head-start employees, librarians and other positions. Who is going to pick up the workload,” PTA President Maggie Escobar asked.
Some 1,500 teachers and classified employees were cut last month in the first round. Now, 200 more employees could be given pink slips --including mental health clinicians, counselors, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and teachers' aides.
"I'm disappointed. I’m saddened. I just don't know where to go with this,” one CSEA member said.
Realizing the impending budget shortfall, CSEA asked the board to renegotiate rather than cut jobs.
“If you cut us, it's the students who are hurting and it’s time to find other solutions except continuously cutting us,” another CSEA member said.
Before deciding on this second round of layoffs, board members did agree to go back to the negotiating table before passing a work reduction proposal in special education programs.
At least one of Tuesday night's speakers reminded the trustees that the board could also be in jeopardy.
"These are your voting members. They voted you in, I voted you in. They can vote you out,” the CSEA member said.
Board members are urging CSEA to get back to the negotiating table as soon as Wednesday.
They have given May 11 as the deadline to come up with a solution.