For several years, March 15 has been a day of dread for new teachers. It's the deadline for being notified that schools might let them go in June due to anticipated budget shortfalls.
But this year, many fewer teachers than before are receiving the tentative pink slips. The California Teachers Association, which represents the majority of the state's K-12 teachers, on Friday estimated that just over 1,000 members would be told they risk being laid off.
Of those, nearly one-fifth are from the Los Angeles County Office of Education.
"We credit Proposition 30 with the sharp drop in pink slips, as well as the improving financial picture for the state," said Mike Myslinski of the CTA.
Proposition 30 is the state tax measure championed by Gov. Jerry Brown, which voters passed in 2012 to help fund schools.
The smaller California Federation of Teachers did not have an estimate of layoffs, but CFT spokesman Fred Glass said, "we're expecting much fewer." Its 120,000 members include K-12 teachers as well as community college and UC lecturers and librarians.
This year's pink-slip numbers contrast with about 3,000 teachers who received notices last year and about 20,000 teachers in both 2012 and 2011. The numbers don't include probationary teachers who are being laid off for performance reasons.
In Contra Costa and Alameda counties, most districts are issuing few, if any, layoff notices. Oakland and West Contra Costa are not laying off any teachers or certificated administrators. Both are receiving increased dollars as a result of the state's new funding formula that allocates more money to districts with disadvantaged students.
The Antioch and Mt. Diablo districts are the exception to this year's trend. Both are issuing a significant number of preliminary pink slips.
The Antioch district is giving pink slip warnings to about 30 certificated employees, a higher number than usual, mostly because of the planned conversion of Libbey-Dozier High to a charter school.
The Mt. Diablo school board unanimously agreed to issue preliminary pink slips to about 54 certificated employees, including roughly nine administrators and 45 teachers.
Many of the positions are being eliminated because of the loss of funding through grants or parent organizations.
"I, myself, was pink-slipped several times," said Mt. Diablo schools Trustee Cheryl Hansen, a retired teacher and administrator. "It's gone on for decades and it's a terrible way to do business ... It's a horribly demoralizing, inhumane system -- but that's how it's worked forever and ever and ever -- and it doesn't justify it. But it is part of this dance you have to go through to create flexibility for planning, and it's tough."
Many of those who receive preliminary pink slips won't actually be laid-off, since more positions often open up because of retirements, resignations and transfers.
Staff writer Paul Burgarino contributed to this story. Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12. Contact Theresa Harrington at 925-945-4764. Follow her at Twitter.com/tunedtotheresa.