Board looks to reduce layoffs

Officials are considering not raising class sizes, which could save jobs.

May 06, 2010|By Max Zimbert

GLENDALE — The number of Glendale Unified School District teachers at risk of losing their jobs could drop from 105 to 71 as administrators reconsider a planned increase in class sizes.

The announcement, made Tuesday at the Board of Education meeting, came as teachers, parents and students rallied publicly against a proposal to cut costs by increasing class-size ratios to 30 to 1.

District officials have sought to keep highly specialized teachers, many of whom are low on the seniority list, but have instructional abilities that more experienced teachers lack.


“All of our dual [language] immersion teachers should be skipped,” said John Garcia, assistant superintendent for human resources. “But by law, in order to maintain flexibility, and we were noticing off the seniority list in a very legal manner, they had to be included in that 105.”

Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson continued to pressure board members to withdraw all pink slips.

“Glendale teachers are the best in the state of California, but today we are looking at losing 105 of them,” she said at the meeting.

Board members on Tuesday continued defending a 4-1 vote in March to increase class sizes, saying they had moved on to looking at scenarios in which classes would be larger but not up to 30 students, on average.

“The vote was to issue layoff notices to enough teachers that would cover the possibility of going 30 to 1,” school board member Christine Walters said. “We have given ourselves the flexibility.”

School board members signaled Tuesday that they are open to kindergarten through third-grade class sizes with fewer than 30 students.

But board members were unsure where they could recover savings if they bring back every teacher.

By law, school districts must notify teachers before March 15 that they could be without a job the following school year.

“If we didn’t do it by the middle of March, it wasn’t going to happen,” Walters said. “We haven’t taken any vote on class size.”

District officials project an $18.5-million budget deficit by 2011-12; laying off 105 teachers would lower that to $6.5 million. State law requires school districts to balance their budgets every year for three consecutive years.

Rehiring teachers would undermine the budget savings, and board members said they were running out of cost-cutting alternatives.

“We have, to date, not received any other way to fill the big gap that?.?.?.?remains even with all these cuts,” board Vice President Joylene Wagner said. “If we had other ideas or possibilities to keep from being bankrupt, we would certainly jump on them.”

School districts across the state are awaiting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s revisions to a state budget that, as proposed, would cut $2.4 billion from public education spending. And district officials cannot factor in the roughly $12 million in savings from a tentative contract agreement until that deal is ratified by union members.

“None of us likes doing what we had to do, [but] this board is doing everything possible to mitigate the impact of those layoff notices,” Supt. Michael Escalante said.

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