School district, board answer their critics

Officials say next two years would be impossible without layoffs.

May 17, 2010|By Max Zimbert

SOUTH GLENDALE — Glendale Unified officials on Monday defended plans to lay off teachers and increase class sizes as a way to bridge a yawning budget deficit.

The comments came during a meeting with teachers and parents at Edison Elementary School intended to quell what district officials said were misunderstandings, and to provide additional context for the district’s budget.

“Right now, we look really good, and that is really frustrating,” Chief Budget Officer Eva Lueck said. “We are deficit spending . . . [and] you’re looking at reductions because, two years from now, you’re going to be upside down. That’s the issue, I think, from the Glendale Teachers Assn. There’s a huge reserve at [the end of this year].”


The question-and-answer session was organized for a parent who wanted more information because he was hearing conflicting information, Deputy Supt. Dick Sheehan said.

About 50 parents were briefed in the Edison gym on state funding and the district’s bottom line, and more than a dozen teachers probed the district’s stance in the teachers lounge before classes started.

“It’s hard for them to understand when there are two different groups saying two different stories,” Sheehan said in an interview.

Tami Carlson, president of the Glendale Teachers Assn., could not be reached for comment, but union officials have pressured board members to withdraw all teacher pink slips, saying they are unnecessary because the district has stable finances through next year.

Since March, Glendale Unified officials have been accused of not doing all they can to avoid increasing kindergarten through third-grade class sizes by 10 students. Class sizes with up to 30 students would save the district $10 million out of a projected $18.5-million deficit by July 2013.

Teachers cited neighboring and similarly sized school districts, as well as Los Angeles Unified, as examples where school boards have reached deals with teachers unions that keep teachers employed and solve financial woes.

Lueck looked into those agreements, and said the school districts are still headed toward bankruptcy.

“I don’t think there’s any district that’s really settled,” she said. “We don’t know the stakes; we’re all moving around.”

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