Ahead of layoffs that could affect about 60 teachers, San Antonio Independent School District officials on Tuesday announced they started meeting with teachers who had been recommended for termination.

SAISD trustees knew the district’s financial outlook for the next year would be grim when Superintendent Pedro Martinez in late March announced the district faced a $31 million revenue shortfall, mainly due to an enrollment loss of roughly 2,000 students.

In mid-April, trustees approved the first step toward potential teacher layoffs.

SAISD also plans to reduce additional positions at the campus and central office administration level, but has not yet made final decisions.

SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said the district will provide more details on the number of teachers affected at the next board meeting, scheduled for May 14. At that meeting, trustees will divulge the number of teachers included in the “reduction in force.”

In a Tuesday press release, Price said teachers will be selected for layoffs based on employee performance, as is governed by district policy and state law.

“This is a difficult and complex process we hoped to avoid through attrition – and we continue to monitor that daily,” Price wrote.

Price told the Rivard Report that at this point, attrition has not created enough openings to negate the need for layoffs. However, if attrition continues throughout the summer and creates more openings, those who have been terminated will be welcome to apply for the vacancies, she said.

At the April 16 board meeting, when trustees approved the first step toward layoffs, district officials said the number of layoffs would depend on how many teachers submitted resignations between then and the end of the school year.

On April 6, SAISD reported it had 73 vacancies, left by teachers who have chosen to leave by the end of the school year. Teachers typically notify the district of their intent to leave SAISD in May and June.

Martinez said this year’s attrition would likely be impacted by many surrounding districts facing similar enrollment and budget woes, meaning they, too, would not be posting many open job positions.

SAISD Chief Financial Officer Larry Garza reported the district is losing enrollment at 65 of its 90 campuses, with the majority of enrollment loss at the elementary level. Only 15 SAISD schools project increased enrollment for next year, and the remaining 10 campuses show an increase of less than 20 students in 2018-19.

Martinez told the district that losing enrollment across so many campuses makes it hard to reshuffle staff and guarantee each currently employed teacher a position in the coming school year.

San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel President Shelley Potter said many of the teachers notified this week had no idea they would be included in the layoffs.

“So they’re in complete shock,” she wrote in a text to the Rivard Report. “Oh, and happy Teacher Appreciation Week.”

Price said the trustee vote to approve specific numbers for the reduction in force, to be taken May 14, must be taken 10 days before the last day of instruction, which is set for May 18. That is one of the reasons the district had to notify teachers of their employment status this week. In addition, Price said, the district wanted to give teachers ample time to figure out employment and personal arrangements for the coming year.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.