Democrats who control the Senate Education Committee voted down a measure today to protect California teachers and save valuable school resources. SB 559, which I authored, would have moved the state mandated deadlines for preliminary and final teacher layoff notices so that school districts can better understand their budget revenues before sending notices to teachers.

The current process for notifying school teachers who are facing layoffs is a complicated, expensive and inhumane procedure that unnecessarily shifts money out of the classroom and causes emotional turmoil for thousands of teachers. It requires school districts to send out notices every year by March 15th. But because many districts have no idea what their budgets will look like, they typically overestimate and send out countless layoff notices to teachers who will never actually be laid off. Just one notice ends up costing over $700 according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

What we have is a date that means nothing but it creates a lot of tension in our workforce. I’ve heard teachers tell me that they’ve left the workforce because they can’t go through that emotional turmoil every year. This primarily affects the younger teachers, the same people we need to stay in this profession and not bail out when they are needed the most.

The change sought in the legislation would have moved preliminary layoff notices from March 15 to May 15, which is closer to the May Budget Revision, when updated revenues are in. Final notices would have been moved from May 15th to June 15. The bill also added additional flexibility by allowing the dates to be bargained locally between districts and local teachers.

The Human Resources Director for the Metropolitan Education District located in San Jose testified unsuccessfully on behalf of the legislation. Tom Mullin told committee members that the current layoff notice process is costing his district thousands of dollars.

“In April of 2012, we were forced to initiate layoff notices on 32 teachers,” said Mullin during yesterday’s hearing. “None of the teachers were ever laid off, but the noticing cost our district $29,000. That’s $29,000 that could have gone to classroom instruction.”