ORANGE : 97 School Employees Get Layoff Notices

The Orange Unified School District has sent layoff notices to 97 certificated employees whose jobs could be eliminated as the district battles an anticipated $2.5-million to $5-million budget shortfall.

It is unlikely that all 97 employees will lose their jobs. District officials said they sent the notices to comply with the California Education Code, which requires that employees who might be terminated receive a warning.

Notices were sent to teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses and school psychologists throughout the district. School programs likely to be affected by cuts include social studies, English and physical education.

"For those who got (the notices), it's been traumatic," said Ruby Penner, president of the Orange Unified Education Assn. "It's like getting the proverbial pink slip with the paycheck."

The number of employees cut will be determined by results of upcoming teacher contract negotiations and on the amount of money the district receives from the state.

Jack Elsner, the district's administrator for human resources, said a budget plan won't come into focus until officials know how much money the state plans to allocate. "We have a whole lot of variables yet to be determined," he said.

The district has no plans now to ask teachers for a cut in pay, though that could change depending on what actions the state takes, he said.

Last year, district teachers accepted a 2.59% pay cut. Penner said it is doubtful that teachers will agree to further reductions.

"I don't think they are willing to sacrifice another pay cut," she said. "They can't afford to lose any more money."

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