More than 100 job cuts could be coming to Fresno Unified. Here’s what we know

Looking to save money, Fresno schools board voted to eliminate more than 100 positions in the next school year at a savings of $7.5 million.

A resolution approved by the Fresno Unified board at its Wednesday night meeting cites funding issues and workload as reasons for the planned reduction. The cuts might not happen, but the board passed the resolution because it needs to be ready to meet a March 15 deadline required under state law for any layoff notices, said spokesperson Nikki Henry.

“We have put these on the agenda to ensure we have the flexibility necessary to continue our budget process,” said Henry, the district’s chief communications officer, in an emailed reply to The Fresno Bee.

No final decisions have been made, though the employees in those positions will be notified, said Henry. She added that Fresno Unified used to notify all employees every year in spring and then rescind about 90% to 100% of those notices.

The Board has until June to discuss the final budget. The proposed positions’ reduction will be effective June 30.

Some employees could be moved to other positions, David Chavez, chief of human resources, told the Bee. And any of the changes could involve demotion and salary cuts.

Henry said the cuts are tied to the agreement FUSD negotiated with the Fresno Teachers Association in the fall and the decreasing enrollment and average daily attendance, which determines how much money the district could receive. The district has been struggling with declining enrollment, from 70,852 students in the year 2019-20 to 68,362 in the current school year. The ADA for last school year was 90% and climbed to 91.3% this year as of mid-February, but it’s still 3% below pre-pandemic levels, the district data shows.

“We knew we’d be looking at cuts of about $30 million-$40 million in the budget to accommodate the increased costs of the agreement,” said Henry. “We are doing what we must to balance our budget with as minimal of impact to classrooms as possible and ensuring our staff are continued to be employed with Fresno Unified.”

The new contract that FTA signed in December last year, enables a 16% gradual increase over three-year terms and 5% in one-time payments for new and veteran teachers. The agreement also includes approaches to lowering class size, reducing special education caseload, and more.

FTA president Manuel Bonilla said this is an old “unfortunate irresponsible narrative” that the district continues to push to educators and employees.

“The reality is that they’ve had record-ongoing revenue, record-reserve levels, and have had some very wasteful allocations and mismanagement of money,” said Bonilla. “So it’s frustrating to hear when they’re trying to blame educators for any potential cuts that they may be budgeting.”

He said redeploying educators to other positions has an negative impact on teachers and students because the district is not being fully funded and fully staffed in the way it should be to help students.

“We still don’t think it needs to happen, because even when you look at the three-year projections, they’re going to be operating an ending fund balance of approximately 11% of the operating budget,” said Bonilla. “We believe that they have enough money to be able to utilize reserves in a way that doesn’t negatively impact anybody.”

According to the passed resolution, a total of 66.76 full-time equivalent permanent classified positions will be impacted, including 24 vacant positions, 1.76 retirements, 19 positions to “Change in assignment,” and 22 filled positions. The district lists 12.9375 full-time equivalents of classified reductions.

Also, 41 full-time equivalent positions for certified services will be discontinued, including 8 vacant positions. 18 impacted positions are due to the Farber consolidation, a new campus site that hosts three schools - JE Young Academic Center, Cambridge High, and eLearn Academy - to open in August 2024.