SMMUSD HDQTRS — As many as 92 employees could be laid off from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District this year under a plan approved Thursday by the Board of Education.

The layoffs would include classroom teachers, nurses and counselors and would save the district about $7.3 million.

It’s possible, though, fewer employees ultimately will lose their jobs. Under state law, the district has to issue pink slips by March 15, well before next year’s budget is finalized.

Superintendent Tim Cuneo said if SMMUSD receives more money than expected from Sacramento, which contributes 71 percent of the local school system’s revenue, or if the district’s proposed $198 parcel tax wins voter approval, some of the laid off employees could be rehired. A one-time early retirement incentive also could save some jobs.

Voters will decide on the parcel tax in a mail-in election scheduled for May 25. The measure needs approval from two-thirds of voters to take effect.

“This is devastating to the district and programs and kids’ education and also to the [employees] it impacts,” Cuneo said of the cuts.

The district didn’t layoff teachers last year, though it trimmed its budget by $4.5 million. District officials are still facing a $14 million gap, which they hope to bridge with a combination of layoffs, unpaid furlough days and the use of reserve funds.

The board will take a final vote on the job cuts at its next meeting March 4.

Under the plan approved Thursday, all 10 of the district’s elementary music teachers would be eliminated. Forty-two additional elementary school teachers would be cut, along with 22 middle school teachers and seven counselors. Six child development positions also would be eliminated.

Harry Keiley, the president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association, on Thursday argued that approving 92 layoffs was excessive because the number of reductions was based on very conservative revenue estimates.

On Friday, he said the union was concerned about the potential number of job reductions, but added, “We also realize and believe that no one on the school board nor in the central office wants people to lose their jobs.”

The teachers union is expected to approve an employment contract with the district that includes five unpaid furlough days this school year and next, Keiley said. District employees represented by the Service Employees International Union have already signed off on a similar contract. Together the deals will save SMMUSD about $2 million and prevent further job reductions, district officials have said.

While no administrators were laid off in the round of cuts approved Thursday, Cuneo said he will be presenting a a recommendation to eliminate some administrators from the district’s payroll in March. Additional cuts to the classified employee payroll could also be on the horizon, he said.

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