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Time to plan now for tomorrow's trouble

March 11, 2011

In what may seem like an odd circumstance, given the grim state budget outlook, Burbank and Glendale schools districts have announced that pink slips won’t be going out to teachers this year. That’s a stark but welcome change to the acrimony and panic in recent years, when reduced funding put dozens of educators at risk of losing their jobs.

In Glendale Unified alone, the district issued 112 pink slips last year, and ultimately laid off 66 teachers, although they were hired back a few weeks before the start of school after making tough concessions. In Burbank, 67 teachers were close to losing their jobs before the union negotiated a way out.

Despite the state funding picture looking bleaker than ever, the two districts are avoiding the acrimony this year by using millions in one-time federal stimulus money to bridge the gap. But there are signs that this relief will be short lived.

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If Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extensions don’t make it to the ballot, and then don’t pass in June, the impact to education funding could be transformative — and not in a good way. And all that federal help, especially given the make-up of the current Congress, almost surely won’t return.

With that landscape on the horizon, both districts and their teachers unions should use this reprieve to start planning and negotiating for those colossal potholes now, rather than waiting for the time crunch. And that doesn’t mean aimless talking for months on end. Deals should be signed as close to the June election hangover as possible.
 
 

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