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School board okays cuts, layoffs

Submitted by on 1, May 12, 2010 – 4:55 amNo Comment

The Alameda Board of Education okayed $7 million worth of cuts for the 2010-2011 school year Tuesday night and pink slips for 130 teachers, administrators and support staff.

“This is just devastating, I know,” Trustee Tracy Jensen told the handful of people in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting.

Jensen said that the district has handed out pink slips in previous years but that it was able to rehire all of its teachers. “This year, I’m fairly certain that won’t be the case,” she said.

Trustee Trish Herrera Spencer voted against the teacher layoffs, saying she thinks the district should consider closing schools instead.

Some of the teachers on the list were cut because the district plans to increase K-3 class sizes to 24.94 students per teacher, and ninth grade class sizes to 35 students per teacher, for the 2010-2011 school year. Others were employed at Chipman Middle School, which will house a new charter school in the fall.

Alameda Education Association President Patricia Sanders asked district officials to consider retirement incentives and job shares in order to save teaching jobs.

“There’s some jobs we can save if you’re open to working together,” she said.

Superintendent Kirsten Vital sounded a more optimistic note about the possibility of return for 33 pink-slipped support staffers. She said she anticipates that many of those workers could come back but said she wanted to issue the layoff notices in case the governor and state Legislature decide to make further cuts to the pool of money that pays their salaries.

District officials faced a May 15 deadline for issuing layoff notices to teachers and other staff. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “May revise” – his revised budget plan for next year, which will include his funding plans for California’s schools – is expected out on Friday, and Capitol watchers are not optimistic about what it might contain.

The $7 million in cuts includes $2.7 million the district will make even if Alameda voters approve Measure E. Those cuts include $1.25 million less for class size reduction.

Additional cuts that would be made for the 2010-2011 school year if E fails include five fewer school days and elimination of middle school counselors. Board Vice President Mike McMahon said that the district would also need to begin the process of closing schools for the following year.

The school board will consider passing a budget on June 22, the last day Measure E mail ballots can be received by Alameda County. If it passes, they could consider rescinding cuts on June 29. This year’s approved budget was $82.7 million.

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