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District rescinds more pink slips

Classified employees left out of system’s retirement-incentive program

Posted: May 6, 2009 8:45 p.m.
Updated: May 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Newhall School District took back 29 pink slips Tuesday following approval by the district’s board of trustees of a retirement incentive program for senior teachers.

Only 12 layoff notices to specialized certificated instructors, including music teachers, counselors, physical education teachers and a visual-arts teacher, remain active.

The district rescinded 45 pink slips in March. A total of 109 notices were sent to teachers and administrators in March.

The number of layoff notices sent, the number of them rescinded and the number that remain do not add up because of the formula the district uses when it counts positions when considering teachers, administrators, coordinators and temporary employees.

“We are working toward the goal of having all specialists, counselors, and temporary teachers continue in their assignments next year.

We do not want to lose these valuable people and we hope to be able to make final decisions on these programs soon,” Superintendent Marc Winger said.

Those specialized teaching positions are still on the “Plan B” budget-reduction possibility list. If their notices are rescinded, they cannot be included in any further necessary budget cuts.

The rescinded layoff notices do not include temporary teachers.

“However, as things settle down, we will probably need them in the classroom setting,” Winger said. “Most, if not all, will be brought into the classroom.”

The decision to rescind the 29 layoffs Tuesday came as board members approved retirement-incentive programs in a 3-2 vote for certificated teachers and one management position, leaving classified employees out of the decision.

Board president Michael McGrath and board member Mike Shapiro voted no on the measure.

The move saves the district $4 million over a five-year period as the teachers do not have to be replaced, given the class-size increases for grades K-through-3, Winger said.

But some board members and school educators felt the retirement-incentive program should have been offered to four classified employees as a show of support.

“From the yard duty to the superintendent and everybody in between is what makes this district,” said Shapiro, whose comments led to applause from the audience. “This is a people organization.”

Other board members didn’t agree with offering a retirement-incentive program for classified employees. Such a program would cost the district $13,000 a year over a five-year period, district officials estimated.

So far, no classified employees have been laid off.

Board member Steve Tannehill noted that offering the retirement-incentive program is meant to be a “jobs-saving effort” to offset the number of layoff notices given to young teachers.

A total of 17 teachers, psychologists and a counselor will take advantage of the retirement-incentive program, he said.

One management employee also took advantage of the program. Because the district is redefining the position, the district will see a $30,000 benefit.

Tuesday’s decisions allow for Newhall School District officials to begin preparing a proposed budget for the 2009-10 fiscal year, Winger said.

That budget will be presented to the board in June.

The budget reflects a number of options the board approved, including increasing class sizes from 20 students to 22 students in grades 1-3 and shifting money set aside for specific programs to the general fund.

In the meantime, administrators are waiting for the outcome of the May 19 election. They’re also waiting to see how much stabilization funding from the federal stimulus bill makes its way into the district, Winger said.

“We do have to go one step at a time,” Winger said.

If the May 19 initiatives fail, the state might have to make more cuts to education.

In case of more cuts, the district has come up with a “Plan B” menu of options for board members to take.

That list includes staff reductions and the elimination of specialized programs such as visual arts and physical education.



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