17 laid-off teachers reinstated | TahoeDailyTribune.com

17 laid-off teachers reinstated

William Ferchland

Retirements and the return of class-size reduction provided the reinstatement of 17 teachers who previously thought they might be out of a job next school year.

“We’re delighted of course,” said Carol Murdock, president of the teachers union in Lake Tahoe Unified School District. “I think we worked quite closely with the district. Unfortunately we’re getting pretty good at this.”

The reinstatements were made before Thursday’s hearing that gave teachers the opportunity to dispute their layoff notice in front of a judge. Dismissal notices were given by the district to counter budget deficits caused mostly by declining enrollment.

It was the fourth such hearing in as many years.

“We didn’t really have a hearing,” Murdock said. “Nobody had to get up and plead their case because everything was settled.”

Human Resource Director Beth Delacour was also pleased to reinstate teachers before the start of spring break today.

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“We don’t want to lose our people,” Delacour said. “We love them. It’s great for our kids.”

Brittainy Lehmann was one of the teachers to have her notice rescinded. The Tahoe Valley Elementary teacher was relieved but unsure whether the reinstatement was caused by retirements or a mistake on where she placed on a list ranking teachers by seniority and credentials. The two are the main criteria that determine whether teachers get notices or not.

“I’m just not sure of the situation,” Lehmann said. “I just don’t know. I don’t know if I got my job back because four elementary teachers retired or if I got my job back because (the district released too many teachers). I guess it was a relief but I’m anticipating on it happening again next year.”

Although a majority of this year’s batch of dismissed teachers were reinstated, more than a dozen still have notices and uncertain futures.

On Tuesday the school board voted to fund class-size reduction for one grade while Lake Tahoe Education Foundation promised to finance another. The monetary pledges will last for three years which will help avoid large layoffs and job insecurity in upcoming years.

The foundation’s president, Brooke Laine, said the bulk of the necessary $80,000 will be given to the district by Aug. 1.

“When you’re working year to year that’s not good,” Murdock said, referring to several teachers who have received dismissal notices in consecutive years.

The foundation’s goal is similar to the fund-raising efforts of Support South Tahoe Athletic Teams, a group of parents and others who raised $200,000 to finance middle and high school athletics this school year.

Board President Wendy David clarified the vote Friday as confusion popped up after the meeting.

“This means we can have (class-size reduction) next year for both first and second grade,” David stated.

Class-size reduction is a program that limits the number of students in a classroom at 20. It’s primarily funded by the state but the leftover cost – and the decision to close two elementary schools – prompted the district to cut the program at the primary grade levels for this school year.

This school year class sizes overflowed with as many as 32 students in a classroom to the exasperation of teachers and parents.

Projected enrollment losses for next school year helped officials determine there is enough space to implement the program at both grade levels.

The administration is looking at ways to bring class-size reduction to the kindergarten level.

– E-mail William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com