SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The San Diego Unified School Board has approved more than 1,600 layoff notices for teachers and other employees.

The district is facing a projected budget shortfall of more than $120 million.

Hundreds of teachers, parents and students rallied outside district headquarters ahead of Tuesday night's meeting with a desperate, last minute plea to end the cuts.

Board members voted unanimously, but said it wasn't an easy process. It was an emotional decision for at least one board member:

"I am a teacher, and I am going to be voting to lay off my friends," said Kevin Beiser.

"The state will steamroll us over, simply seizing control and guiding the destiny that we tried to shape together in the last few years," added District Superintendent Bill Kowba.

The pink slips must be issued by March 15 or the district risks a takeover by the state.

Last year, San Diego Unified issued more than 1300 pink slips and ultimately rescinded more than 90 percent of them.