.Live Oak Board Cuts 7 Teachers, Staff

Petition calling for an investigation gathers 600 signatures

The Live Oak School District Board (LOSD) approved laying off at least 16 workers Fiscal Stabilization Plan with contentious layoffs needed to save the District from insolvency on March 6. 

If the state does not certify the plan, the District could still end up insolvent.

The layoffs approved with the stabilization plan are a school psychologist, an administrative secretary, four family liaisons, four reading and math aides, seven elementary school teachers, among other positions.

The total savings of the budget will amount to $6 million over the next two school years. Next year the plan proposes $2.3 million in personnel-savings alone.

The Green Acres Principal was saved after Board Member Paul Garcia brought forward an adapted Plan A, which cut half-time financial analyst and education services positions in the District office instead.

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Teachers and parents still told the Board that the plans weren’t doing enough to save the teachers. 

“When we talk about percentages we should be looking at a percentage of the total budget with the children versus in an office,” said Ocean Alternative teacher Deb Bell. 

Another parent expressed frustration about how the Board can’t answer questions because of the Brown Act. 

“Then get the state law changed,” said Ray.

Then life lab instructor Emily Claridge came up.

Claridge told the Board it was “unethical and pathetic” to approve the cuts. Ray responded, “I resign.” He stormed out.

Before re-entering the building to applause from teachers and parents later in the meeting, Ray said, “I am not resigning, at least not right now.” 

Claridge later apologized to Ray.

Board Member Felicita Rasul reminded the audience that she serves on the Board as public service. No one else wanted the job when she was appointed in 2021. She joined the Board to help everyone have the great experience she had in the District as a parent.

“A lot of things that were mentioned in the vote of no confidence we are discussing and looking at but it is a personnel issue. It is personal,” said Rasul. “I hope that you can trust that we are all decent and kind people that are just trying to take care of the business of this District.”

After Ray’s return, Pomrantz of LOETA thanked the Board and she agreed to work together. 

Ray said they must decide in the next several months if Green Acres Elementary will close before they spend the funds for the $44 million facility bond measure, which leads in the early election results. 

The saga will continue at least into June when the LOSD Board will approve a final budget for 2024-25.

There is now a petition on change.org titled, “The Children of Live Oak Deserve a Quality Education,” which calls on the Santa Cruz County Board of Education to investigate Dr. Morales. It has 613 signatures as of March 8. 

Board Member Felicita Rasul says that the issue of Dr. Morales’ employment will come up at the next meeting in closed-session. The Board is currently working on how best to report what they discuss, according to Rasul.

Nick Ibarra, Director of Communications for the Santa Cruz Office of Education, said in an email: “Our office’s role is currently limited to this ongoing fiscal review and support process. COE’s provide oversight to districts only under very specific circumstances, as outlined in state ed. code, which generally relates to finance and appeals of certain board decisions.”

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