DMUSD trustees vote to lay off 19

Many ESC programs will now rely on fundraising

Nineteen teachers will be laid off in the Del Mar Union School District after the Board of Trustees voted for the cuts 4-1 in an effort to balance the budget; but they said they would to do their best to preserve the Extended Studies Curriculum.

The new plan will slim the budget from $2.5 million to $1.8 million.

Superintendent Sharon McClain said in her nine years as a superintendent, she's never seen a situation this dire.

"It's been painful," McClain said of the layoffs. "We don't want to be doing this and we wish we didn't have to."

Allowing for flexibility

The board's decision calls for a different ESC model than a three-core proposal made on Feb. 11. The new model offers science and technology, but gives schools the flexibility of choosing either music or art.

A district physical education specialist will be brought in to assist with regular instruction in grades first through sixth.

The option the board selected means the district will pay for 20.2 ESC specialists and allow schools to fundraise for the addition or expansion of programs.

Principals will now choose between offering district-funded music or art, which McClain said is a benefit.

However, McClain said drawbacks are that there will be more itinerant teachers who will have to travel from site to site. Additionally, schools will share one PE specialist district-wide for all grade levels.

The foundation has until April 15 to raise site-specific funds for the programs they want to keep.

"I know we want it all, I believe we can have it all," Matthew Zevin, foundation president said. "We can have it all if all parents give what they can to the foundation."

Ashley Falls School was given as an example. They will need to raise $47,969 to meet their site-based goal of 2.1 ESC teachers.

Del Mar Hills PTA president Kerry Traylor said she was disappointed they only have 49 days to raise the money.

"The school board failed to give the foundation enough direction to operate effectively," Traylor said.

At the meeting, parents and teachers said they were more than willing to try to raise the money. Jeff Bales, a fourth-grade teacher at Ocean Air, said he would personally wash cars.

Public speaks out

An audience of more than 80 listened to debate that centered mainly on how much to cut.

The cuts were called "heartbreaking" and tears fell on the faces of teachers as they listed all the things that would be lost.

In the public comment segment, overwhelmingly, the principals, teachers and parents supported the program proposed Feb. 11, which offered a strong core of science, technology and music.

They said the plan made fundraising goals easier for parents and the Del Mar Education Foundation, meaning they only had to focus on paying for PE and art programs.

One teacher after another said the three-core program is fairer and the best for student learning. It allows for more high quality, meaningful programs rather than a curriculum that has been watered down, they said.

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