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DUSD approves layoffs, new graduation requirements
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Reductions equivalent to two full time teaching positions at Denair High School are scheduled for the 2015-2016 academic year due to less than expected enrollment.

“Our district is on proper financial footing, but a downtick in enrollment requires that we downsize our workforce,” said Denair Unified School District Superintendent Aaron Rosander. “Because most of the decreased enrollment is occurring at the high school, it is proposed that these reductions occur at the high school level.

In a proposal approved during the DUSD Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, Rosander reports that rather than targeting two full-time teaching positions, the District will perform partial layoffs.

“Whole teaching positions are not expected to be eliminated and our comprehensive high school with its college preparatory programs will remain solidly in place,” wrote Rosander.

“What this would mean is that there will be a handful of teachers, who instead of teaching six classes, will be teaching five classes. A few full time teachers will become part time teachers,” added Rosander.

The particular kinds of services that will potentially be affected are English 9, English Essentials, English 10, Geometry, Physics, Civics/Economics, World History, Physical Education, Marketing & Entrepreneurship/Health, Health, Computer Operations/Applications/Computer Literacy, and Spanish 3 teaching positions.

According to Rosander, this reduction in services is not expected to affect employee benefits.

“We are working as best as we can on behalf of our employees and our school,” said Rosander. “I have no doubt that in the near future we will rehire teachers and add new teachers as district-wide enrollment continues to show positive signs.”

Tied to the District’s decision to lay off two full time equivalent positions, DUSD also approved an early notification incentive on Thursday, particularly aimed for veteran teachers considering retirement.

“We are trying to be proactive when thinking about layoffs on March 15,” said DUSD Chief Business Officer Linda Covello. “We don’t know anyone who is planning on returning next school year and usually we don’t know until August—by that time it is hard to figure out who is going to teach and what classes.”

With this early notification incentive, DUSD is hoping to minimize the number of staff receiving layoff notifications. Instead employees are voluntarily asked to provide an irrevocable notice of resignation or retirement.

“These employees would not have to leave us early, they would just have to give us notification that they are going to leave,” clarified Covello.

For employees who submit a notice of resignation or retirement to the District before 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 26, DUSD will award an employer contribution of $2,000 as a cash payout. Employees who submit a notice between 8 a.m. on Feb. 27 and 4:30 p.m. on March 5 will receive a cash payout of $1,000. Those who submit a notice between 8 a.m. on March 6 and 4:30 p.m. on March 12 will receive a $500 cash payout.

Although the number of notifications may exceed the level of needed reductions, the District hopes that these notifications will help transition smoothly into the upcoming school year.

Also attributed to decreased enrollment, as well as reduced course selections, is the District’s decision to revise its high school graduation requirements.

With the Board’s approval, DUSD students pursuing graduation will only have to take two years of science to meet the requirement, a decrease from the originally mandated three years.

“As enrollment has declined, so are the number of sections that we are able to offer,” said DHS Principal Aaron Delworth to the Board on Thursday. “This is not our long term goal or plan. We would like to come back to you in the future to get that year back.”

Included in this proposal was the District’s plan to expand opportunities for freshman to take part in the Career Technical Education pathways with the inclusion of introductory courses in Agriculture, Art, Law Enforcement, and Communications/Technology.

With each class scheduled to progress over the course of one quarter, these new classes will effectively replace the existing Freshman Mini Courses of Health and Computer Literacy.

“We’ve rolled Health into Physical Education, which is done at most high schools, and took Computer Literacy and we are building it into several other courses, including the Career Technical Education pathways courses,” said Delworth.

To conclude the Thursday meeting, the Board voted unanimously to approve the elimination of 16 Denair Charter Academy teachers for the 2015-2016 school year—a fairly routine procedure that Rosander reports occurs annually.

“These teachers are hired on an annual contract based on school enrollment,” wrote Rosander. “At the end of the school year, these contracts expire and obligatory layoffs are issued.”

Once the District receives verified enrollment numbers for the upcoming school year, Rosander reports that almost all positions, possibly more, will be brought back.