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231 Irvine Teachers Get Layoff Notices

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Layoff notices went out Friday to 231 teachers in the Irvine Unified School District, officials said.

Though school staffs knew that the notices were coming because of a $4-million budget deficit, the principals who delivered the news to the affected teachers said they were shocked by the number of cuts.

“It became a reality today,” said Diana Schmelzer, principal at University High School, which alerted 17 faculty members of their possible layoffs.

“I think the distress on all of our parts is that instead of numbers, we have real names and real people,” she said, adding that some teachers who have worked in the district since 1979 could be affected. “We knew it was coming, we knew it was going to be awful, and it proved to be just as awful.”

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On Feb. 22, board members approved cutting 182 full-time positions and scaling back arts, music and science programs. Some of the 231 teachers notified Friday are part-time instructors whose positions combined are the equivalent of full-time jobs, district officials said.

The district is making a last-ditch effort to save the teaching positions as well as the jobs of some health clerks, counselors, nurses and librarians by asking voters to approve a $95 annual parcel tax. The measure is on the April 11 ballot, but state law requires school districts to notify teachers by March 15 if their jobs are in jeopardy. Final layoff notices have to go out by May 15.

“We’re all very disheartened by the need to notify some of the most spectacular teachers,” district Supt. Pat Clark White said. “We are going to work very hard to tap every source of revenue in this state and in this community to try to avert the ultimate catastrophe of losing them. The parcel tax election remains our hope.”


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