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Protest puts on pressure

Dozens march to push for Glendale Unified School District to rescind teacher pink slips.

May 05, 2010|By Max Zimbert

Scores of teachers and parents marched from their school campuses to Glendale Unified headquarters Tuesday, continuing a campaign to pressure school board members to rescind 105 teacher pink slips.

More than 60 parents, teachers and students from Edison Elementary School led the march with chants of “Save our students,” and “I want [Supt. Michael] Escalante’s salary,” along the roughly milelong protest to Jackson Street.

“Our school really is a family, and this is affecting our whole school,” said Minette Garcia, a parent of two daughters who are in the dual-language immersion program at Edison Elementary. “Our district has a reserve and they can prevent this from happening.”

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District officials are still looking for ways to preserve teaching jobs while solving a $18.5-million deficit by 2011-12. Laying off 105 teachers lowers the deficit to $6.4 million, Chief Budget Officer Eva Lueck said.

By law, school districts must maintain a balanced budget every year for three consecutive years.

In March, the Board of Education voted 4 to 1 to let kindergarten through third-grade class sizes rise to 30 students, prompting 105 pink slips to teachers.

“Where we’re currently at is, we’re trying to preserve all the district’s options at this time,” Escalante said. “The move to [pink slip] teachers is a way of doing that.”

Tami Carlson, president of the Glendale Teachers Assn., disputed the district’s third-year projections, contending they are always off.

“The reason we have always had millions more the third year out than projected is because of the ridiculously conservative computations that the [Los Angeles County Office of Education] requires you to use,” she said. “I beg of you, stop balancing your third year out budget projections for a four-star bond rating at the expense of your teachers, our students and this community.”

More than 350 parents, many from Edison Elementary, signed and delivered a petition to the school board members, asking them to withdraw the pink slips.

“Our schools are a reason why people move here,” Garcia said. “If we’re not putting an emphasis on our schools, it’s going to be impossible for teachers to keep [academic performance] up.”

Eleven teachers from Edison Elementary received pink slips, creating a glum mood among the staff, teachers there said.

“Next year we’ll have teachers who’ll have 10 years seniority and they’ll be next [for pink slips],” said Kevin Reilly, a sixth-grade teacher at Edison Elementary. “What’s next?”

Carol Konvalinka, a special education teacher at Glendale High School, said long-term effects of larger class sizes would reverse student achievement gains.

“We know whatever happens at the elementary level is going to affect us at the high school level,” she said.

Elementary school students also addressed board members, some of them in tears because they said their teacher would likely lose her job.

“With 20 students, teachers can teach us more,” said second-grader Erika Arzmanins. “We want our 11 teachers back because they are excellent.”


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