More than 20,000 public school teachers in California opened their mailboxes over the last few days to find a pink slip inside as districts met the state's Thursday deadline for dispensing the dreaded news to the educators that they may not have a job in the fall.
The layoff notices are preliminary, the districts' best guess at the amount of money they will get to educate kids next year after the Legislature concludes its annual budget fight this summer. But a proposed tax measure on the November ballot offers more uncertainty than usual.
Districts won't know until two months into the new school year whether voters will approve a tax increase that would prevent a $4.8 billion trigger cut to education funding, as proposed in the governor's budget.
That cut would be about $807 per student, the equivalent of 55,000 teacher layoffs or 17 days of school, according to The Education Coalition, representing 2.5 million teachers, parents, administrators, school boards and other school employees.
"Though the very future of our state depends on California's teachers ... (they) will now spend months in limbo, worrying about their futures and the future of their students," state Superintendent Tom Torlakson in a statement.
The layoff notices were sent to teachers, librarians and others in schools all over California. Not many districts found a way to skirt the deadline.
San Francisco sent out 500 layoff notices.
In Los Angeles, 11,000 were sent.
About 700 were mailed in Sacramento.
Every school librarian in Union City got one, along with 100 teachers, administrators and other school staff.