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I’m Just Sayin’:

Teacher layoffs should be only a last resort

May 13, 2010|By Sharon Raghavachary

Our children attend a Glendale Unified school, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that we parents are very frustrated with the Board of Education and administration. We have been told that as many as 105 teachers could be laid off, though the exact number is still not known. Earlier this week, the school board approved a revised list of 83 teachers.

We’ve also been told that the class size in kindergarten through third grade could rise to 30 students, but there has been no final vote by the board. And we’re still waiting to have a calendar for the next school year.

I spoke with one of the 60 parents from Edison Elementary School who went to the school board meeting last week asking that the teacher pink slips be withdrawn. Her son is on the autism spectrum and, while he does well in his regular classroom, she worries what the effect of having 50% more kids in the room will have on him.

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School district officials tell us that there were 30 children in the primary grades years ago and the students were successful, but that was with the help of classroom aides, who will not be available this time around.

At a meeting in May, Supt. Michael Escalante and Assistant Supt. Dick Sheehan told a group of parents that the 30-student class size would be capped, meaning no primary grade class would be allowed to exceed that number. They said that could mean that children would potentially be moved from their home school to another area school if no space were available.

One of the moms from my daughter’s class said that they may look at private school for their son, and I have no doubt our school may lose some students whose parents can afford that choice.

The district’s focus seems to be strictly on balancing the budget with teacher layoffs and health insurance caps. Cutting teachers is a drastic step and should be a last resort.

I would like to hear what other areas of the budget they’ve cut. How many administrators will be laid off? How many non-teaching positions will be cut? How have expenses been reduced? Until the district shows that the budget is down to the bare bones and they’re doing everything possible to save the classroom teacher positions, the frustration will continue.

Earlier this year I wrote a column in which I questioned the reasoning behind the school board’s decision to pay Escalante $297,000. I pointed out that the incoming superintendent, Sheehan, makes $182,000, and I felt that 10% would be a reasonable increase, given the budget crisis.

This week I sent a letter to Escalante and the board members requesting a copy of Sheehan’s new contract, now that it has been approved and is public record. I will share that information when I receive it.


Get in touch SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. She may be reached at sharonchary@gmail.com.

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