LA QUINTA, Calif. -

Lauren Garrott, a geometry teacher at Shadow Hills High School, in Indio, says the idea of layoffs "causes a stress that goes around our campuses every year."

The stress may soon flood school grounds once again, after the Desert Sands Unified School District board meeting on Tuesday night. DSUSD says 27 employees are set to receive a preliminary layoff notice by March 15, to help fill the district's $1.5 million budget shortfall.

"Especially this year, we feel that it's completely unneccessary because of the passage of Prop 30," Mona Davidson, the president of the Desert Sands Teachers Association.

District Vice Superintendent Sherry Johnstone says Prop 30 funds at least helped lower the toll of potential lay offs.

"It did not add any new funding. It just prevented massive, major additional cuts," said Johnstone.

Jobs on the preliminary chopping block include 14 elementary school teachers, at least two middle school, and three high school teachers. Also, at least five teachers on assignment who work outside of the classroom, and two administrative positions are at risk.

Davidson says it's unfair to continue balancing the budget on the backs of the students.
     
"It's what it does to morale. Teachers are just tired of it. Our class sizes are getting bigger and bigger," she said.

Teachers at the meeting warned that overcrowding classrooms create a safety issue. They're referring to a district high school teacher who was seriously injured and is still recovering after she was assaulted by her student last September.

"Part of this comes from, again, the cuts. When you have these students, you might have one that could be a little problematic, but when you larger and larger class sizes, you're going to have more than one," said Davidson.

DSUSD assures there are a few factors that will play out to help alleviate layoffs, including retirements and teachers choosing not to return next school year. When that happens, Johnstone says, "We would let one by one of these employees know that it's just a preliminary and they will not be laid off."

May 15 is the deadline to let teachers know if they will definitely be laid off.