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South San ISD votes to stand by its decision to lay off some teachers

The South San Independent School District voted to stand by its decision to lay off at least 60 teachers, while at the same time, finding the majority of them employment within the district. It’s another step as the district moves forward after consolidating Kazen Middle School and Athens Elementary and shutting down the district’s alternative school.

As of Wednesday, the district said it has placed 48 of the staff members deemed surplus in other positions, which are to begin once the three campuses shutter before the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

The superintendent said the move is to save money that can be better spent elsewhere than in empty classrooms. Protesters say things look grim for the teachers who are hoping to get rehired once the dust settles.

“I’m saying they are afraid to speak up,” said Juan Vigil, whose great nephew attends one of the district’s schools.

“They did not handle it correct. They didn't give them enough notification, we've been having meetings since February,” said Angie Olvera, a concerned grandparent.

Jocelyn Duran, with South San ISD, said the district couldn't let staff know they would lose their jobs until the final vote on the campuses' future last month, but it did freeze hiring for months to save positions for this scenario.

Through an internal job fair and considering laid off employees first for openings, Durand said the district said it’s doing everything it can to find them jobs before the next school year. It is still looking for jobs for 18 employees who were laid off.

“They really would enter into a consolidation effort if we weren't optimistic that we couldn’t get these positions filled from internal candidates," Durand said. “Unfortunately, it's just going to be the case that maybe a position might not open until the very end of summer."

Protesters said some teachers were happy at the elementary and middle school level and didn’t want to change grades, so they decided to retire.

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