Blaming falling enrollment, Oxnard School District (OSD) trustees pink-slipped 58 teachers and administrators at a May 8 special meeting, the most in 10 years.
Only Denis O’Leary, who is routinely on the losing end of 4-1 votes, said no to the layoffs. Trustees Monica Madrigal Lopez, Debra Cordes, Jesus Vega and Veronica Robles-Solis voted in favor.
“I argued scores are going down and we’d have a better product if we kept these teachers,” O’Leary said. “My fellow trustees think the scores are just fine and have said so at meetings.”
Test scores are only one reason to be concerned about the impact of layoffs, teachers told trustees at the May 16 school board meeting.
Maria Skinner, a Brekke Elementary School special education teacher, said laying off special education staff jeopardizes students and remaining staff, creating a “revolving door” of teachers who aren’t able to work with students regularly.
“We have students who require one-on-one tutoring, that means a teacher has to be with that student at all times,” Skinner said. “When we have a lack of teachers and (administrators) pulling teachers from my classroom to cover another teacher’s student, that creates frustration and negative behavior.”
Richmond Elementary School teacher Manuel Hernandez wondered whether it was time to ask for a “reasonable pay raise” given the number of hours staff spend performing tasks other than teaching.
“My colleagues and I have spent countless hours serving the students and families of the District,” Hernandez said, adding teachers regularly serve as coaches and members of PTA boards and other committees, encouraged by management.
“We are not doctors, nurses or paramedics, but we have prevailed against scraped and scratched knees, headaches and even vomiting,” Hernandez said. “We are not lawyers, judges or legislators but we have cross-examined witnesses, rendered verdicts and laid down the law more effectively than any of those highly paid professionals ever could have.”
Hernandez said that a job with wide-ranging tasks is getting more and more difficult each day, but teachers continue to take on multiple roles because they want to make a difference.
“We can go on and on about how the district spends its money on hotels at conferences, construction costs and paying lawyers and consultants,” said Hernandez. “My point is, teachers have shown they always have the District’s back. The question is, when and how will you demonstrate that you have ours?”
The layoffs were tentatively approved in February but didn’t become official until the special meeting, ironically held during National Teachers’ Appreciation Week and closed to the public.
When school resumes in August, OSD will be down 24 K-6 multiple-subject teachers, two math teachers, four English teachers, three physical education teachers, three social studies teachers, two science teachers, 10 teachers on special assignment, two instructional specialists, a nurse coordinator, the educational services director and six assistant principals.
O’Leary said the layoffs presumably go into effect in June at the end of the school year. He said some teachers will probably be rehired to replace others who retire.
Total Ventura County school enrollment dropped in 2017 and 2018. Last year OSD kindergarten enrollment dropped 400, much more than the expected 100.
Fewer students means less money from the state at a time when Many OSD students still attend classes in temporary portable structures.
OSD’s Superintendent Cesar Morales did not return messages left on his office and cell phone, but has previously said the District will continue pursuing the master plan it approved in 2012.
That plan calls for two new schools, one in Oxnard’s Seabridge subdivision and another near Teal Club and Ventura roads.