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Originally published May 4, 2011 at 10:28 PM | Page modified May 4, 2011 at 10:28 PM

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Seattle schools to send out 70 pink slips

Seattle Public Schools plans to send layoff notices to about 30 teachers and 40 other school employees, part of the district's ongoing efforts to fill an estimated $35 million budget gap for the upcoming school year.

Seattle Times education reporter

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Seattle Public Schools plans to send layoff notices to about 30 teachers and 40 other school employees, part of the district's ongoing efforts to fill an estimated $35 million budget gap for the upcoming school year.

That's fewer than last spring, and a lot fewer than two years ago, when pinks slips went to 161 teachers and 58 classified staff members such as instructional assistants and secretaries.

As in the past, Seattle School Board members, while voting to approve layoffs Wednesday, urged the district to lay off as few people as possible. To be safe, many Washington school districts send pink slips in May to teachers they end up rehiring by the fall. That's because state law requires districts to notify teachers of any layoffs in mid-May, months before they pass their final budgets. (If the Legislature fails to pass a budget by May 15th, then the deadline moves to mid-June.)

All board members voted in favor of giving Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield the authority to make layoffs except Betty Patu, who abstained.

It's unclear how many of the employees who receive pink slips will ultimately lose their jobs. That depends on how many other employees decide to retire or leave for other reasons, and whether the district is successful in winning grants to fund some of the jobs. It also depends on how many education programs the Legislature cuts in its final budget.

The Senate is proposing deeper cuts for K-12 education than the House. Under either spending plan, Seattle Public Schools expects to lose anywhere from $17 million to $21 million in state funding, which includes midyear cuts plus reductions for the 2011-12 school year.

The district earlier announced plans to eliminate about 90 positions in its central office.

In calculating how many teacher layoffs are needed, district staff members have said they took into account the expected increase in student enrollment again next fall.

Staff estimated that eliminating the 70 teaching and other school positions will save roughly $3 million a year.

As it stands now, district staff are planning to eliminate the equivalent of about 16 full-time positions in Seattle high schools, including three counselor positions, nearly five language-arts jobs, two in social studies, three in career and business education, and three in French.

In middle school, they are planning to eliminate about nine positions, including nearly four full-time counseling jobs, two social-studies positions, and two language-arts/drama jobs. At the elementary level, plans call for eliminating nearly two full-time positions, both school counselors.

Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or lshaw@seattletimes.com

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