10,000 teachers statewide given walking papers
March 17, 2003
From San Diego to South Lake Tahoe, thousands of teachers across California received layoff notices Friday as school districts struggle with ways to slash their payroll.
At Lake Tahoe Unified School District, 27 teachers were given dismissal notices. The teacher layoffs are part of a $2.7 million budget reduction for next year forced by $1.1 million loss because of declining enrollment, $1 million in reduced revenue from Gov. Gray Davis’ budget proposal and $600,000 from increased operational costs.
The process to dismiss 70 classified employees including library aides, custodians and teacher assistants, begins today.
The district sent a mass e-mail to 140 people, such as school administrators and community members, notifying them of the news.
South Lake Tahoe City Manager Dave Jinkens responded with best wishes to those dismissed and expressed hope and change for the future.
“There must be a better way for the state to do business to protect a large surplus from becoming a huge deficit,” Jinkens wrote. “There also needs to be recognition in Sacramento that our school district and city, with our unique governing structures in place, do not have the tools generally available to growing districts and cities to meet financial challenges. We will overcome, but it will take us time.”
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Wayne Johnson, president of the 330,000 member California Teachers Association, believes there should be more cuts at the administrative level, especially at district offices, rather than reducing teachers.
One administrative position worth $90,000 was on the chopping block for LTUSD. With South Tahoe High School Principal Karen Ellis retiring after this school year, it is not known if her position will be filled.
At Alameda Unified School District, all 635 instructors received layoff notices while 1,487 teachers are targeted for dismissal at San Diego Unified, according to the CTA. In all, more than 10,000 California teachers received layoff notices Friday.
Class-size reduction, a program that receives state funding to keep the 20 to 1 teacher-student ratio and was kept next year for LTUSD, is expected to be cut in districts across the state.
“You haven’t read too many news stories about massive administrative layoffs,” Johnson said. “To spare administrators, some districts are slaughtering proven school reforms like class-size reduction and are threatening to lay off far too many teachers. With some districts even giving all of their teachers layoff notices at once, the process is being abused.”
Last year 26 LTUSD teachers were initially given notices, but half were hired back because of retirements, leave of absences and increased enrollment at the high school.
A reduction in force hearing is slated for April 16-17 when an administrative law judge will review the process and teacher seniority list. Teachers will also have the chance to state their cases.
Teachers have until April 9 to announce their resignations so they qualify for the enhanced retirement package.
The package, which can be used only once every two years, includes $5,000 a year for five years for teachers 55 years old and older. The $5,000 is the difference between keeping an experienced teacher and hiring a new one.
In addition, there is a $10,000 incentive for the top 29 teachers on the seniority list to retire. Currently there are 266 teachers in the district.
Since it is offered this year, the package won’t be offered next year.
Jimmy Vaughn, president of South Tahoe Educators Association, admitted times are tough.
“It is a shame that conditions are such in the state and the community that we are put in a position to attempt to entice our most experienced teachers to retire,” said Vaughn. “The experience that they have has taken years to acquire and is not easily replaced.”
— E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com
5k taking what a more senior would make and subtracting what district would pay for new teacher.