No Pink Slips = Bad Math?

Too many elementary school teachers and not enough middle school teachers.

The San Diego Unified School District did not issue pink slips to teachers, even in the midst of trying to balance a tight budget. When all was said and done, through attrition and early retirements, the District was left with 185 "excess" teachers.

The District has found places for them. Some will go to low performing schools to reduce class size, paid for with stimulus money.

Some will fill vacancies in English as a second language instruction.  Some will teach Special Education, with an incentive offered by the District to pay for their Master's Degrees. The others will go to schools with increased enrollment, which is expected.

"That's the Board's solution, it doesn't mean it's a perfect fit," School Board Member John Debeck said.

He claims the result is a mismatch, with teachers going into fields for which they were not trained.  He says that is especially concerning when it comes to Special Education, where a teacher has to really want the job.

"In terms of possible candidates, this is a very good pool. These are people who know teaching," head of the teacher's union Camille Zombro said.

She says experience counts, and it is hard to find Special Education teachers, and those going into the high poverty areas know the challenges.

She also denies an accusation that the Board did not pink slip teachers because it is beholden to the union.

"The reality is San Diego Unified never had to lay off teachers in the first place. Period," she said.

Debeck says he would have liked to have a furlough so no one had to lose their jobs; but in the absence of that, he says the pink slips would have provided the Board with more flexibility when balancing its budget.

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