SAN MARCOS — The San Marcos Unified School District (SMUSD) held a governing board meeting on Tuesday, March 2, and approved its second interim budget and fiscal stabilization plan, which includes authorization of preliminary layoff notices to more than 100 staff members.
The layoffs, which include teachers, instructional aides and Kids on Campus staff members, are an attempt to reduce costs and avoid a nearly $60 million budget deficit in two years, according to the report.
Declining enrollment, increased cost of special education and the increased contributions to pensions are all factors that school officials point to as reasons for deficits like these.
Unlike other North County school districts, such as Oceanside Unified and Escondido Union, SMUSD saw a steady increase in enrollment before COVID-19.
However, after the start of the COVID-19 crisis, school districts across the region, including SMUSD, have seen a decrease in enrollment and are feeling the financial impact.
Specifically, SMUSD has recently seen a loss of 1,100 students (5% of the student population), which may become a larger number at the end of this school year.
The interim budget does predict a limited number of these students will return (300 total over the next two years), with the worst case being that none of these students return and that more current SMUSD students will unenroll.
The second round of layoffs is also scheduled for some time next year, according to the staff presentation.
“All of us understand that we are dealing with people’s lives and people’s livelihoods, so this is a difficult conversation… something that we cannot take cavalierly,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Tiffany Campbell.
Campbell also said during the meeting that “the goal for the Fall is to return to 5 days per week, full-day, in-person instruction.”
The board also heard a presentation from the Parent Institute for Quality Engagement and approved a resolution affirming its commitment to anti-racism and equitable practices.
Increases to substitute teacher pay were also approved, as well as funding for the modernization of Richland Elementary School.
Barry Zeait was promoted from assistant principal of San Marcos High School to principal of San Elijo Middle School and Mareesa Evans was hired as the district’s risk management coordinator.