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District Staff facing Layoffs Reduced to 61  

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

Match 5, 2010 -- Sixty-one School District employees will receive layoff notices prior to the March 15 state-mandated deadline for such notifications as a preliminary cost-cutting measure, Superintendent Tim Cuneo announced at Thursday’s School Board meeting.

Some or all the jobs could be restored on June 18 when the Board votes on the 2010-11 fiscal year budget, depending on various scenarios, including the possible passage of a $198-per-parcel tax measure on May 25.

No vote needed to be taken on the layoffs because last month the Board gave the go-ahead for the District to issue release notices to as many as 92 teachers, counselors and nurses.

The number was revised on Thursday because, since last month, 23 teachers informed the District that they would be retiring at the end of the year. In addition, the teachers’ union ratified the labor agreement for five furlough days this year and next year, a plan expected to save the District $2 million each year.

Also on Thursday, the Board voted to approve an item that demoted four administrators to teaching positions, further cutting costs.

Several Board members pleaded with the public to support the parcel tax proposal, now known as Measure A, so the number of layoffs could be further reduced.

“If you ever thought that education was important, if that thought has ever crossed your mind, this is the time to put that thought into action by supporting the measure,” Board member Jose Escarce said.

 


Harry Keiley, president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association, said, “The association is opposed to all of these (layoffs), to state the obvious.” He also encouraged people to support Measure A.

When the Board approved the 92 layoffs, the list included specifics on what kinds of jobs were proposed for elimination. The list of 61 did not include those details. It simply contained serial numbers representing specific employees.

It is known that the layoffs would eliminate the entire elementary school music program. As they did at last month’s meeting, several music education advocates told the Board this would be devastating to the District. Board member

Ben Allen sympathized with them.

“I am deeply troubled about the idea of eliminating elementary music,” Allen said. “I think it’s a bad idea. I don’t want to see it happen.”

The District says it is facing a deficit next year of up to $14 million, in large part because the state government will be giving fewer dollars to education than it has in the past. The passage of Measure A would generate an estimated $5.7 million for the District to offset the need for some of the spending cuts.

The District this week received bad news that its chance of receiving more federal money had dimmed.

California was not among the 15 states (and Washington D.C.) selected to get a share of the money from President Obama’s Race to The Top program. Cuneo said California could apply to the program again in June.

 

“If you ever thought that education was important, if that thought has ever crossed your mind, this is the time to put that thought into action by supporting the measure,”   Jose Escarce

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