Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District offices (File photo)

Resulting from the district’s fiscal situation and a decreasing number of enrolled students, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District pink slipped dozens of local educators in March, but both union and district leaders said the process was far from over at the time.

In the weeks since, tears have been shed as teachers, students and parents districtwide attempt to persuade SMMUSD leaders to spare their peers and mentors. And it appears it has worked — to some degree, according to Thursday’s agenda, which details the rescission of 13 preliminary layoff notices.

At a meeting in March, board member Oscar De La Torre asked if it was possible for the board to suspend layoffs, which was a subject that would dominate the public comment portion of the meeting.

Though public speakers were unable to attend the meeting as a result of California’s safer-at-home orders, more than 50 residents submitted comments online that were read by staff.

At the beginning of the public comment period, president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association Sarah Braff said union members understand that the district needs to use the staffing formula when determining the cuts it will make in the future, “however, the need to RIF more than 50 teachers is unnecessary given the current crisis.”

“We know this is a difficult time for the district, and while we understand we must reduce our expenditures, we are not convinced that these reductions have been undertaken with an eye for helping students first,” Braff previously said when the topic of pink slips was first broached by the board. In fact, the union feels the district can save money using a multitude of other ways, which is partly why Braff shared with the board of education in March that the district could save as much as $6 million if it were to scale back professional development and consultant costs.

On Tuesday, Braff shared similar sentiments.

“Originally, there were 49 cuts (and) 19 have been rescinded, so there’s still 30 teachers without a position today,” Braff said, mentioning some hearings are still pending so it’s near-impossible to nail down who will be brought back next year and who will be let go.

“We obviously want to keep all teachers and cuts as far away from the classroom, especially considering what’s happening with Covid-19,” Braff said. “We believe there is a need for more contact with adults, not less.”

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1 Comment

  1. May 12, 2020

    Santa Monica – Malibu Unified School District
    Santa Monica High School
    Attn: Dr. Ben Drati

    Re: Coach Matt Kirk

    Dear Dr. Ben Drati,

    As a community Healthcare worker, I completely understand the unprecedented times we all are facing and the economy we are currently living in; not to mention, the overwhelming concern over the next few months. We are all faced with making decisions, some a lot harder than others.

    I am writing today on behalf of our beloved Football Coach at Samohi. Coach Kirk has been with us as long as my son has been there and was the one that inspired me to believe in him and what he has accomplished with our youth. Samohi as you may remember 3 years ago, was not very competitive in nature and our football team faced great challenges. Coach Kirk has been able to change that around completely. He has a way with the kids in his very calm and caring nature, which just promotes our kids and challenges them to be successful. I owe everything my son has accomplished on and off the field to Coach Kirk’s leadership. I know you are faced with hard decisions, but to lay him off is a decision that we as adults, parents, colleagues, etc… will not only regret, but our kids will suffer a great decline academically and as competitors. We cannot allow this to happen. NOT AGAIN to our beloved football team; our Vikings!!! Please reconsider your decision and allow Coach Kirk to do what he does best and that is lead us all to success.

    My son, who will be entering his junior year next year, was not even going to be attending Santa Monica High School next year because I was faced with a financial hardship that was forcing me to have to move out of our city. Coach Kirk learned about my situation and even offered housing! Who does that? All because he believed in my son’s ability and wanted him there next year. Can you imagine what that means for us now? I ended up having to make ends meet in order for my son to play football at his home school. I am working endlessly to ensure that he has what he needs to be successful; this means writing this letter to you with my heart in my hands! Please I beg you to reconsider Coach Kirk’s layoff.

    I know I do not stand alone or with a handful of parents, we are a community of very close and caring parents. Our kids will not have the college football scholarship opportunities that many other kids under Coach Kirk had if you lay him off. Our kids need him, we need him!

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns with my letter. I stand with Coach Kirk and our Vikings community!

    With best regards,

    Irene Solis

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