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Layoffs still scheduled

District: Deal with teachers won’t save enough money to save jobs.

April 21, 2010|By Max Zimbert

GLENDALE — Days after inking a tentative agreement with their teachers union that saves Glendale Unified about $12 million over three years, administrators on Tuesday said layoffs were still necessary to keep the district solvent.

Plans to potentially increase some class sizes in order to lay off 105 teachers would save the district an additional $15 million, officials said, but even then, Glendale Unified would still be only halfway toward meeting financial targets in 2012-13.

Without ongoing cost-cutting, the savings would only stave off the inevitable, officials warned.

“With the reductions, with the settlements . . . it’s 2012-13 where we fall off the cliff. And the cliff gets much steeper as we move forward,” Chief Budget Officer Eva Lueck said.

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The news didn’t go over well with Glendale Teachers Assn. members, parents and others who packed the school board meeting to protest the planned cuts.

Union members released 105 black helium balloons during the board meeting, symbolizing the number of potential teacher layoffs in May.

“[They] serve as a reminder of the black cloud you have cast upon the future of this community’s students’ ability to learn,” union President Tami Carlson said.

Seventeen teachers and parents criticized board members for potentially cutting or changing Clark Magnet High School’s busing and scheduling, and increasing elementary school class size to save money.

“No one can argue keeping class size small is beneficial to the overall success of each student,” said Myra Goethals, a Valley View Elementary School parent. “What do you think the impact will be on local businesses and real estate if we no longer value the success of our children?”

Glendale Unified Supt. Michael Escalante sought to deflect much of the public frustration to state officials who control the purse strings of school districts. State education funding cuts have forced districts to take drastic cost-cutting measures.

“Nobody would be in this business if they thought kids weren’t their priority,” he said. “You’re down here complaining to us — we’re a state agency. You should be in [state Sen.] Carol Liu’s office.”

Shouts of “we are” from the audience ensued.

Atina Manvelian, a Glendale High School senior and student representative on the school board, broke with tradition and in an emotional plea reminded stakeholders that they were ultimately teammates.

“I understand both sides, because my mom is angry, too, but there is nothing we can really do,” she said. “The money is short, and when the country falls apart, instead of coming together, we are shifting the blame around. I don’t know if we notice that, but it’s not helping.”


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