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Teacher layoff notifications okayed

Submitted by on 1, March 10, 2010 – 6:00 amOne Comment

The Board of Education undertook the grim task Tuesday night of approving notifications to dozens of teachers that they could be laid off at the end of the school year.

The district could cut the full-time equivalent of up to 102.7 teaching positions for a savings of more than $6.2 million. Some 46 temporary teachers could also lose their jobs. Alameda Education Association president Patricia Sanders said her union represents roughly 620 teachers.

“Unlike previous years, what we’ve come to realize is that things are so difficult, they won’t be coming back next year,” Sanders said of the notifications. “We have an incredible school system right now and what’s happening is truly tragic.”

Sanders and others said the layoff notifications point up the need for the district to get a new, larger parcel tax passed to replace the existing Measure A and Measure H taxes. The board could vote on a replacement tax for the ballot as soon as this coming Monday.

The cuts could include more than 40 elementary school teachers who would lose their jobs as class sizes grow and dozens more across a variety of subjects in Alameda’s middle and high schools, including counselors and a spate of math teachers that could be lost as ninth grade class sizes rise. The list also includes 13 regional occupation program part-time and full-time positions.

In addition to class size reduction, the list includes cuts that could come as a result of the likely closure of Chipman Middle School, changes at the Alameda Community Learning Center, enrollment changes and the possible loss of state funds that pay for specific programs and staff, like counselors.

The district has to notify teachers by Monday that they could be laid off. Final layoff notifications would need to take place by May 15.

The school board okayed an agreement with the district’s teachers on March 2 that allows the district to temporarily suspend contract language that limits K-3 class sizes to 20 students per teacher and also allows the district to furlough teachers for up to eight days for each of the next two school years, including five school days.

Tuesday night, the board approved resolutions that would mandate the same work year reductions for school administrators and other district office staff including Superintendent Kirsten Vital, who will take a pay cut of up to $6,612 next year if all the furlough days are used. The furlough days for non-teaching staff could save the district north of $300,000 next year.

The board also okayed new criteria for deciding who will face a layoff if two teachers who have the same level of experience are being considered. The district’s human resources chief, Laurie McLachlan Fry, said she has only faced that situation twice. But Trustee Tracy Jensen said the criteria could become more critical as the district considers greater numbers of layoffs than in previous years.

Meanwhile, the board will open a public session where they may approve putting a parcel tax on the ballot at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the third floor conference room of the district offices, 2200 Central Avenue.

The board also set a second meeting at 5 p.m. next Thursday, March 18 at the same location in the event they don’t okay a tax on Monday. The board voted on March 2 to set a mail ballot for June 22, but didn’t approve actually putting a tax on the ballot.

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