The San Antonio Independent School District is letting more than 150 employees go at the end of the school year to help offset a $31 million budget shortfall.
District trustees unanimously approved the layoffs Monday night in front of an emotional standing-room only crowd.
“Here I am, thinking I have a stable job; I’ve been here for three years. I’m fine. We just bought a car because my car broke down. And now I’ve got a car payment, no job and a son with a disability with no stable schooling. So it’s a big upheaval in our life. Something we completely didn’t expect,” said Valerie Elizondo, one of 69 probationary teachers who won’t have her contract renewed.
The second grade teacher said her previous performance evaluations were excellent.
“And all of a sudden this year it’s like ‘No, you’re not doing things correctly,’ ” Elizondo said.
Last week, a total of 63 contract teachers, 69 probationary teachers, 18 associate principals and 13 central office administrators were asked to resign or told their contracts would be terminated.
Superintendent Pedro Martinez said it’s the most difficult decision he’s made since he took charge of the district three years ago.
“We’ve made a lot of tough decisions, folks. I mean we have phased out middle schools, we’ve closed programs. This was by far the toughest probably decision we’ve made. I don’t think I’ve slept, probably, in the last two weeks,” Martinez said.
The teachers and principals were selected based on this year’s performance evaluations. All but 27 resigned ahead of Monday night’s board meeting.
San Antonio Alliance, the local teachers union, said it was unfair to base decisions on one year and accused the district of targeting certain teachers for dismissal.
Martinez said the district decided to judge teachers solely on this year’s performance evaluation because they started using a new appraisal system last year.
“So frankly we were worried about using the data from last year, implementation year,” Martinez said. “We can’t always promise perfect. But it’s consistent.”
One major point of contention during the board meeting was a hiring fair SAISD is holding Saturday.
Martinez said the district is still overstaffed by 108 positions in elementary and middle school but needs to hire high school teachers, bilingual teachers and special education.
“Some of the individuals, for example, who were overstaffed, they have certifications in other areas that we’re going to talk to them about maybe teaching in that area because we may still have openings,” Martinez said.
SAISD’s budget shortfall is caused by declining enrollment. The district has around 2,000 fewer students this year than the year before. It expects to lose another 800 students next year, mostly due to competition from charter schools.
Camille Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille