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Teacher toll hits 70

Education: Officials hopeful revised state budget allows them to rehire laid-off teachers

Posted: May 11, 2010 9:13 p.m.
Updated: May 12, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

More than 70 local teachers will receive pink slips this year, as local school districts struggle with millions of dollars in lost funding from the state.

Sulphur Springs School District expects to lay off 40 of its 222 classroom teachers, Superintendent Robert Nolet said. Another two or three assistant principals could be laid off in the coming months.

Saugus Union School District issued final layoff notices “with a very heavy heart” to 30 of about 500 teachers, Superintendent Judy Fish said.

The Newhall School District will lay off seven of its roughly 300 teachers. Another two counselors and one assistant principal were also issued pink slips.

School districts across the state are mandated to send final layoff notices to certificated staff, which includes teachers, counselors and others qualified classroom instruction. by the end of the week. School districts are waiting on the governor to release a revised budget in May, giving educators an outlook on the state’s financial situation.

That would allow districts to consider rehiring laid-off teachers.

“Our goal is to rehire back as many as we can as quickly as we can, once we know with some certainty what the state is going to do,” Nolet said.

Castaic Union and the William S. Hart Union High school districts will not send layoff notices to any of its teachers.

However, the Hart district has not decided whether or not it will issue final layoff notices to 37 assistant principals, Superintendent Jaime Castellanos said.

The layoff notices are one way local school districts are trying to come up with millions lost because of the state’s fiscal crisis.

Local school districts have already issued furlough days for all employees. The number of students in classes has been increased, support staff has been cut and most bus transportation for students has been eliminated.

“We’re in terrible shape as far as the budgets are concerned,” SCV Teachers Association President Joan Oxman said. “It just doesn’t like there’s any more money coming. The reports that we get are very discouraging for educators.”

Last year, the federal stimulus package pumped millions into local school districts, which saved jobs in education.

But that one-time money has been spent, and districts are looking at other options — like dipping into reserve funding and reducing programs.

“This isn’t on the backs of teachers or classified or administrators,” Nolet said. “In reality, educators are subsidizing the public education system in the Santa Clarita Valley.”

The lack of funding to local school districts remains a secret to many in the community, Oxman said.

“We continue to do the best we can,” Oxman said. “We’ve been trying to do more with less for a long time.”

Leaders like State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell have warned that state budget cuts will lead to future teacher shortages and will hurt the state’s ability to produce an educated workforce.

The continuous cuts to education may lead recently laid-off teachers into other industries.

“I would imagine that it certainly would discourage people from going into education at all,” Oxman said.

Struggling school districts and teacher layoffs ultimately impact the community, said Jack Kyser, founding economist of the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

Since a community like the Santa Clarita Valley has a strong reputation for its top-notch schools, changes to the education can become an issue for local residents.

“When you’re having layoffs of teachers, that gets a lot of people’s attention,” Kyser said.

At the same time, out-of-work educators pay less into their local economic system, Kyser said.

Kyser and Oxman worry that the cuts will continue until the state can manage an economic recovery.

“Things are pretty scary here,” Oxman said. “We’re making some really tough decisions about what budget cuts we have to make next. There’s no place left to go.”

 

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