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

All but six of the pink slips handed out by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District back in February have been rescinded. But now 106 staff members in Child Development Services are at risk of being out of work at the start of next school year.

The good news began at the board of education’s most recent meeting when the board announced the rescission of 13 additional pink slips in an information item on the agenda.

Back in February, SMMUSD officials served pink slips notices to nearly 50 teachers, which meant the educators could soon be cut from their respective positions. At the time, Superintendent Ben Drati was adamant that all of the district’s literacy coaches would be rehired under new job descriptions and promised the district would bring back as many teachers as possible.

Local residents were skeptical though, and hundreds took the podium in-person, and virtually, throughout the Spring semester to share their displeasure with the situation. Parents demanded the district cut administrative salaries, district programs and other costs before the board considers making cuts to the classroom.

At a meeting in May, it appeared the arguments had worked as board members Oscar de la Torre, Ralph Mechur and Maria Leon-Vazquez each voted no on a resolution that eventually passed and directed staff to continue on with the layoff process.

Despite the passage of the resolution, Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association President Sarah Braff remained hopeful that both sides would be able to again work together to find places for teachers in local classrooms. And thanks to an increased number of recent retirements throughout the district, Braff and the union got their wish on Thursday when the board rescinded another 13 RIF notices.

A few days after the meeting, Braff thanked the district for its cooperation in recent months to cut down the number of layoffs. During Thursday’s board meeting, in a speech mainly pertaining to the Black Lives Matter movement and recent protests, she touched on the prospective layoffs in CDS.

“We must plan to continue childcare and preschool,” Braff said, “because we will not be able to reopen our schools without our Child Development Services.”

Local parents agreed and wondered how families who rely on the preschool program to provide a number of enrichment activities as well as a watchful eye on their children while they are away working for the day will handle the closure of the “critically necessary” program.

“We must find the resources to continue these programs,” Braff added during the meeting.

“With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our program has had to close at all the physical locations through the end of this school year and the upcoming summer months. We know this presented a challenge for many of our families. Our staff continued to be available for support the past few months and stayed in touch with many of you,” a letter sent out to parents from SMMUSD states. “However, with no funding coming in from our fee-based programs, and state support reductions expected, we continue to explore our options regarding reopening in the fall. With this in mind, CDS has made the very difficult decision to recommend layoffs of all staff in our programs. This is not to close our programs. Rather, this is being done so that when the time comes, we can responsibly reopen and rehire our wonderful staff and teachers.”

brennon@smdp.com