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Think pink!

Submitted by on 1, March 12, 2009 – 7:00 amNo Comment
Patricia Sanders

Patricia Sanders

Friday marks the start of what’s become sort of an annual event here in Alameda: The mailing o’ the pink slips to dozens of lucky teachers and administrators. And our local teachers are working to draw attention to their plight by asking everyone to wear pink.

“The state of California seems to be racing to be last in the nation for school funding,” Patricia Sanders, president of our local teacher’s union, told the school board on Tuesday night. “We want to let our legislators know how important education is to our state.”

So teachers will be wearing pink ribbons and stickers to protest the funding cuts on Friday, the last day the district has to notify teachers and administrators that they could be laid off. And they’re asking people to wear pink as a sign of support. They’re part of a statewide campaign aimed at improving state funding for education.

The state is slated to cut $11 billion from California’s public schools and colleges, and as of Wednesday, school districts had issued 26,029 notices to teachers and administrators that they could be laid off. Last year, some 10,000 teachers got layoff notices, and half actually lost their jobs.

Alameda Unified is facing $5.8 million in state cuts for this school year and next, though district staff has developed a plan to neutralize the existing funding reductions without making budget cuts (it’ll use money it had saved for “categorical” programs that it is now allowed to use for general operating expenses and, if it survives legal challenges, money from the Measure H parcel tax).

Still, ongoing cuts and the general (bad) state of the economy are forcing Alameda Unified to consider how it will spend less in the future. So this year, they’re thinking of eliminating the equivalent of almost 70 full-time teaching jobs plus another 10 school principals, vice principals and district administrators (the list is on Mike McMahon’s website, items 4, 5 and 6).

With seniority rules, that means that dozens of positions for “categorical” programs like English language teachers and reading specialists get cut, but the district’s probationary and temporary teachers could get the ax at the end of this school year.

And the district’s human resources director, Laurie McLachlan-Fry, said the bad budget times mean it’s more likely than ever before that these jobs will be lost. She said temporary teachers in particular are less likely to find a more permanent place in the district because the teachers whose jobs they are filling are more likely than before to come back.

“I think it’s more likely that there will be layoffs,” she said.

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