Seven Tigard-Tualatin teachers laid off Friday

About 15 employees let go to help bridge district's $7.5 million shortfall

Pink slips issuing the layoffs of Tigard-Tualatin School District employees were sent out on Friday, impacting seven teachers and about 15 employees district wide.

The number is low compared to the 61 staff positions that had been scheduled to be cut next year, due to the district's $7.5 million budget shortfall.

The final numbers include the school librarians at Deer Creek, Tualatin and Bridgeport elementary schools. A half-time music teacher at Tualatin High School - the music program at Tualatin High School will be filled part time by a music teacher elsewhere in the district. High school foreign language teachers teaching Japanese and Chinese were reduced to half time.

Also laid off were one classroom teacher, seven classified staff and 3.5 administrative staff, said district spokesman Susan Stark Haydon.

Pink slips were meant to go out to staff members May 19, but a recommendation by the district's budget committee dropped the district's unappropriated general fund balance from 5 percent to 4 percent - a move that freed enough money to save some staff members.

While the district originally planned to cut 61 staff members, about 40 of those cuts were absorbed by regular retirements and other departures.

Some of the layoffs could be temporary, Stark Haydon said. The district is currently in talks with the teachers' union and other employee groups to potentially cut days from the school calendar next year.

The district budget committee has said it would prefer cutting days - also known as teacher furloughs - as a way to soften the elimination of staff positions next year.

Every day cut saves the district about $370,000.

But implementing furlough days can't be made unilaterally. The district will have to negotiate with the district's employee groups before cuts can be made.

The budget must be approved by the School Board before July 1. If negotiations with employee groups are reached after the July 1 deadline and the budget is in place, some or all of the laid off employees could be hired back.

According to Superintendent Rob Saxton, it would take cutting about four days from the calendar to save from losing staff. To save all 61 positions on the chopping block, Saxton said it could take adding as many as a dozen furlough days.

School districts are budgeted on two-year cycles. Any cut days from the calendar in the 2011-12 school year would also need to be made in 2012-13.