BVH teachers are still affected by the ongoing use of temporary contracts

IB+Math+A%26A+teacher+Cristina+Hernandez+talks+about+her+experience+with+the+pink+slip+crisis.+She+was+notified+of+her+lay+off+in+2019.

Madison Knudson

IB Math A&A teacher Cristina Hernandez talks about her experience with the pink slip crisis. She was notified of her lay off in 2019.

Part of an ongoing issue, teachers with temporary contracts, or pink slips, are hired to teach at a school in the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) for an allotted amount of time. Pink slips were put into play two years ago due to financial instability issues within SUHSD. Teachers who received pink slips get laid off every year from the district, losing their job when the school year ends. When the next school year starts, they wait to see from the district whether or not they will have a job and which school they’ll teach at.

The decision of which teachers to put on these contracts is a matter of seniority, as Integrated Math (IM) two and International Baccalaureate math Standard Level II teacher Cristina Hernandez explained. Hernandez states that some teachers who have been teaching for five years or less were put on pink slips.

“I received a pink slip in 2019, and that just meant that I was getting laid off [from work] until further notice. It happened to about 205 teachers in our district across all the middle schools and high schools,” Hernandez said. “With those 205 teachers, they split them up among subjects and then went down a list of the teachers depending on how many years they had been teaching.”

IM one and IM two teacher Angel Prado also stated that he was aware of seniority’s role in the selection of teachers who were put on a temporary contract. Prado has only been on a pink slip for one year due to having worked at another district the year prior, but the situation was the same for him.

“Before the pandemic, I only had about four years [of experience] in the district, so I was laid off with several other teachers,” Prado said. “There’s a lack of security, having to pack up my room at the end of the summer, moving to a whole other school and learning their procedures. I like it here [at Bonita] and I love the community, but then suddenly the position is done. You gotta move again.”

There’s a lack of security, having to pack up my room at the end of the summer, moving to a whole other school and learning their procedures. I like it here [at Bonita] and I love the community, but then suddenly the position is done. You gotta move again.”

— IM one and IM two teacher Angel Prado

Similar to Prado, for Hernandez and Spanish 1-2 and 3-4 teacher David Reyes Cornejo, being on a temporary contract causes uncertainty. Both Reyes and Hernandez were put on pink slips two years ago when the district was not financially stable. These teachers do not have any way of knowing whether they will be rehired next year or what school they will teach at.

“Not knowing if I will continue with the district has some impact. It creates a little bit of anxiety, a lot of uncertainty, a bit of stress, because you don’t know if you can expect a paycheck at the end of [the month],” Reyes said.

Due to the contract, it’s possible for teachers like Reyes to get a position at multiple schools over the years. When rehiring teachers, the district could place them at an unfamiliar school.

“Last year, I was at Sweetwater High School. This year, I’m at Bonita High School and Bonita Middle School. Before last year, I was at Chula Vista High School. Over the last three years, I have worked at three different schools,” Reyes said.

Similarly to Reyes, Hernandez expressed how being unsure about her position next year impacts her life. Many aspects have to be taken into consideration and planned ahead of time as her future is unclear.

“It’s hard not knowing whether [or not] I’ll have a job for the following year, let alone be at a school that I’m really happy being at. That just makes it hard all around, you know? Paycheck wise, I have to pay bills,” Hernandez said. “I’m in the process of looking around at other school districts where I might want to apply to just in case.”

Unlike Hernandez, Reyes does not know what his future will look like for the upcoming years, as he has not tried coming up with a backup plan or taken any precautions to ensure a job at another district. He hopes that the financial status of SUHSD will improve and he can get a permanent job as a teacher.

“The main reason I haven’t looked for employment elsewhere is because I chose to work for this district and this community,” Reyes said. “This community means a lot to me. The families that I work for, the students that I work for, mean a lot to me, so that is a reason why I put myself through the process of waiting for the financial situation to improve and waiting for there to be a permanent opening.”