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District takes back 45 pink slips

Newhall School District will consider increasing class sizes to meet budget shortfall

Posted: March 24, 2009 2:08 a.m.
Updated: March 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Newhall School District will take back 45 of the 109 pink slips it sent to teachers and administrators and will take a look at increasing class sizes to meet a $2.4 million budget shortfall, district officials said Monday.

"At the time we sent the notices, we were in a period of great uncertainty. The state had not yet passed its budget and the projections looked dire," said Beverly Knutson, assistant superintendent of human resources.

"So we had to act conservatively. Now the budget picture is starting to clarify and we want to relieve as many people as we can, as soon as we could," Knutson said.

Forty-five is about half the number of classroom teachers who received layoff notices. School districts are required to send pink slips by March 15 for positions they may cut in the fall.

Superintendent Marc Winger said 45 pink slips were rescinded because of new funding flexibility provided by the state and a retirement incentive program for teachers with seniority.

Much like other local school districts, the Newhall School District is offering a retirement incentive plan for teachers 55 and older and with 12 years of experience in the district as a way to reduce the number of final layoffs in May, Winger said.

The first meeting about the retirement program brought about 18 interested teachers, he said.

"All those things brought us to the point where we could lighten up a little bit," Winger said.

Increasing the number of students in K-3 classes by two to four students could be another solution and would generate a moderate impact on student education, Winger said.

"I think given the crisis we're in, a two- or three-student increase in primary (grade classrooms) will be just fine," Winger said.

"I don't really think we're going to see an impact."

The district is using a 24-student classroom as a model, but that number could decrease.

"My preference would not be at 24," Winger said.

The school board is expected to finalize budget cut priorities for the 2009-10 fiscal year during its April 21 meeting, Winger said.
The district was able to absorb cuts for the 2008-09 fiscal year by dipping into reserve funds, he said.

Until final cuts have to be made in April, Winger hopes the district can come up with other methods to rescind every pink slip.
May 15 is the deadline for actual layoffs of teachers and administrators.


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