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Pink slips could be coming soon for Turlock teachers

District prepares for additional state cuts

POSTED February 24, 2010 12:01 a.m.
With additional cuts in funding looking inevitable, the Turlock Unified School District Budget Advisory Committee discussed recommending sending out pink slips to District teachers.
Tentative layoff notices are expected to be sent to those who are on the general suggestion list, which contains a total of 47 suggestions with over 10 of those specifically targeting staff, if the Board of Trustees approves this item at their next meeting.
“Sending layoff notices will keep our options available,” said Sonny Da Marto, TUSD superintendent. “We are running out of options.”
A state education code mandates that certificated employees facing possible job elimination have to be notified of layoffs by March 15. If the Board decides to make those pink slips effective, the announcements would be made in May. The legal obligation to warn of impending layoffs is only for credentialed employees.
“We are not recommending these items,” said Barney Gordon, Parent-Teachers Association president. “We are just keeping these items on the table.”   
One of the options available that could save the district the most money requires increasing kindergarten through third grade class sizes, which will result in eliminating teaching positions.
“When class size increases, there is a need for fewer teachers,” said Mike Trainer, TUSD assistant superintendent for human resources.
The number of pink slips expected to be sent out and who all will get one is unknown at this time, but a bulk of the pink slips are expected to be sent to elementary school teachers, Trainer said.
If the committee suggests to increase class sizes from kindergarten through third grade to 30 students per teacher, it will save the District $1.9 million while eliminating 60 teachers in those elementary school classes, according to staff reports.
Other options on the suggested list are to terminate or reduce technical services, library services, campus supervisors, personnel support for high school athletics, music teachers and custodial services.
“Pink slips should be for everyone,” said Tayna Abrams, a TUSD parent. “It could get uglier than what we anticipate and we would be foolish if we didn’t keep our options open.”
The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees will vote on sending out pink slip notices at their Tuesday meeting.
Along with filling the $3.9 million gap in school funding, the committee came to terms with the option that the state might cut more available funding for schools.
More cuts are expected because the governor wrote the state budget with an expectation of receiving $6.7 billion in federal funding, but the state is only getting about $1.5 billion in federal funding.
According to School Services of California, schools are expected to see an additional 40 percent cut because of the lack of federal funding.  
“We could see up to another $3.9 million cut,” said Lori Decker, TUSD chief financial officer. “We still have some work cut out for us.”
Even though committee members are prepared for additional cuts, as of right now, they have only selected seven suggestions totaling $4.27 million in savings that will be presented to the Board of Trustees in the coming months.
Out of that total, $1.9 million is subject to union negotiations that could fall through.
District staff are urging Budget Advisory Committee members to make additional recommendations for the $1.9 million gap to “fall back” on just in case union negotiations don’t work out, Decker said.
No additional suggestions were made at Monday’s meeting, but there was some discussion about charging for transportation for sports activities, decreasing freshman sports games and looking into an electronic library program to save the libraries money.
The next Budget Advisory Committee meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. Monday at the Turlock High library.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail mmartens@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.

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