UNION CITY -- The New Haven school district will issue pink slips to more than 100 teachers, classified workers and administrators as part of its efforts to close a $10.7 million budget gap.
While the district waits to see if state and local taxes are approved, the school board Tuesday night voted unanimously to give notice to the equivalent of 77 full-time teachers and other certificated personnel, and 32 full-time classified workers, that they might not have jobs in the fall.
Class-size ratios would increase to 30-to-1 in kindergarten through second grade, and prep classes and middle school electives such as art and music would be in jeopardy.
The state's deadline for districts to notify teachers that they may be laid off is March 15.
"We've done everything we could all these years to keep as many programs and schools open and class sizes reduced for our children," said Charmaine Banther, president of the New Haven Teachers Association. "And the state has not done its part for us."
Before trustees voted on the layoff notices, a group of students spoke passionately against eliminating electives.
Seventh-grader Kristina Galan, 12, said her show choir class at Cesar Chavez Middle School is like her family.
"My life would be so different without music," she said. "Without music, I promise I will not be the same student, because there's going to be a part of me that's missing. And I won't be on the honor roll, I can promise you that."
Music and other electives keep many kids in school and out of trouble, the students said.
"I've seen a lot of people in my family and in my life that have gone down the wrong path," said eighth-grader Eugenio Solis, 13. "Electives help people stay on the right path. They give them a reason to go to school, give them a reason why they don't do bad stuff."
Trustees, though, say their hands are tied by the state.
"The decisions that we have to make up here are required by law, but they're in direct conflict with what's in our hearts and our beliefs," board President Michelle Matthews said.
Based on Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, which assumes passage of a state tax in November, New Haven would have to cut $4.5 million from its $99 million budget for the 2012-2013 school year. If the state measure fails, the district would have to slash another $6.2 million in spending.
The district already has reduced its budget by more than $15 million over the past four years, forcing class-size increases, cuts to the instructional year, the elimination of transportation and dozens of layoffs.
New Haven's workforce has been slashed 15 percent since 2008.
"Everything that we value, that makes us different from every other school district around, is now on the list," Banther said.
The layoff notices were issued as New Haven supporters are gearing up to campaign for a $180-per-parcel tax on the June ballot that would raise about $3 million a year. A similar measure barely failed in May.
Supporters of the measure are meeting at 6 p.m. March 15 at the New Haven Teachers Association office, 32980 Alvarado-Niles Road, Suite 812. They also are planning a rally and march from James Logan High School to the Union Landing shopping center March 31.