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School Board OKs Teacher Layoffs

The district is now authorized to reduce certified staff by 26 full-time equivalent positions.

School Board OKs Teacher Layoffs

For years, Elementary School teacher Lindsay Affleck has been given pink slips — a notification that she might lose her job.

And time after time, she’s been called back to work in the fall, having only days to set up her classroom, she said, while holding back tears at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

“A lot of people say these cuts won’t affect me,” said Affleck, who noted her hire date might keep her safe this year. “But it affects us all.”

The Newark Board of Education approved a resolution Tuesday night with four ayes that allows for teacher layoffs. Board President Ray Rodriguez was not present.

The resolution allows district officials to reduce the number of certified staff members by the equivalent of 26 full-time positions.

Newark teachers said they are appalled with the board’s approval of the proposed layoffs before the 2012-13 school year.

“We are disgusted with this. They didn’t have to do it,” Newark Teachers Association Co-President Chris Baugh said. “There will be no room to move forward and collaborate [in negotiations] until this issue is resolved.”

Senior Director of Human Resources Tim Erwin said the number of proposed cuts reflects the maximum number of layoffs that could be implemented and that district administrators recommended layoffs based on projected enrollment numbers for the upcoming school year.

“It’s a delicate balance between working with the projected [enrollment] numbers and the assumptions of where we think [enrollment] numbers are going to fall and the reality of where those projected [enrollment] numbers come [to be],” Erwin said.

Continuing declining enrollment and a change to when children are allowed to enter kindergarten were also factors in recommending teacher layoffs, officials said.

Superintendent Dave Marken said the district can’t ignore its declining enrollment.

“What we need to do is turn around the entire picture, begin to build up this community instead of boarding up. Part of the issue is the reality that we have a declining enrollment,” Marken said.

According to the state Department of Education, Newark Unified School District’s enrollment for 2010-11 totaled 6,654 compared with 7,241 five years prior.

Erwin noted the layoff notices are given in order to prevent overstaffing.

Still, teachers and union representatives held a firm stance against the proposed cuts during the meeting.

“We stand with NTA as they stand with us. We stand against further layoffs,” said Mary Gundmann, president of the Newark chapter of the California School Employees Association. “We can’t afford any layoffs.”

NTA leaders said the proposed cuts are unnecessary and that often times, the school district re-hires numerous teachers shortly before or right after a school year begins.

NTA Co-President Bryan Blattel said in the 21 years he’s been employed with the district, there has “never been a case of being overstaffing.”

Instead, Blattel said teachers are often re-hired shortly before the beginning of a school year and that the district often is “scrambling to hire people,” shifting students around to balance enrollment and set up classrooms.

“The problem is making the decision of what’s best for the students, what is best for the community,” Blattel said. “This is not in [their] best interest.

Baugh added that NTA has consistently been willing to work with the school district by taking unpaid furlough days and delaying pay raises.

State education laws require that districts issue preliminary notifications of potential layoffs by March 15 and final notifications must be issued by May 15.

The approved resolution calls for the following reductions:

Particular Kind of Service

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE)

Multiple Subject

3.0

Multiple Subject Categorical Intervention

8.8

Biological Science (Elementary SRT)

1.0

Junior High Math Categorical Intervention

0.8

Physical Education

2.0

High School Math Categorical Intervention

1.6

High School English Categorical Intervention

1.8

Secondary Counselor PPS Credential

1.0

Secondary Assistant Principal

1.0

Single Subject Social Science

2.0

Single Subject Chemistry

1.0

Single Subject Spanish

1.0

Single Subject English

1.0

Total

26.0

Last May, the district authorized the for the 2011-12 school year, affecting 27 certified employees.

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