As many as 19 teachers in the Extended Studies Curriculum program may be laid off and the Del Mar Union School District Board of Trustees may cut out the art and physical education arms of that curriculum if the school board approves Superintendent Sharon McClain recommendations.
At the school board's Feb. 11 meeting, McClain recommended that the ESC program be trimmed to include only technology, science and music based on input from parent surveys asking which programs they valued most.
"We haven't been happy in tackling these cuts," McClain said. "But we can't continue to live beyond our means and maintain our budget."
Currently there are 39 teachers in the ESC program and only 19 are needed to cover the contractual agreement of the program, McClain said. Seniority will play into the lay-off decisions and teachers are expected to receive preliminary notice by March 15.
A final decision on the cuts is expected to come at the next board meeting on Feb. 25 at 6 p.m.
About 50 people attended Wednesday night's meeting at Del Mar Hills Academy.
Public comment included an art teacher near tears and a student who expressed how much her art and PE classes mean to her.
The cuts do not mean that PE and art won't be taught in district schools. The subjects are already taught in the classroom. The cuts mean that they won't be taught by specialized teachers in the ESC program, who bring "depth and complexity" to these subjects.
The board also discussed a shift in the way the ESC program is funded. By the 2010-11 school year, there will be no more site-specific fundraising for programs. Funds donated to the Del Mar School Education Foundation will be spread out among all schools equally, to provide parity.
As fundraising efforts have already begun at school sites for the 2009-2010 school year, McClain recommended giving schools until April 15 to raise the money needed to keep their ESC programs in 2009-2010.
Some parents expressed concern about specific sites not raising enough in that short timeline.