Preliminary termination notices were handed out to almost 25% of
Burbank teachers this week, a number the Burbank Teacher’s Assn. said
is far too large for a district of Burbank’s size.
“Glendale, which is two times the size [of Burbank], is sending
out only 50 layoff notices,” BTA co-president Kim Allender said.
The 237 notices come as the district struggles to put together a
budget for the coming fiscal year, when it expects funding cuts of
$4 million from the state, which has a deficit of more than $30
One reason for the large number of layoff notices stems from a
district policy of hiring teachers as probationary employees --
rather than offering them year-to-year contracts -- when it replaces
teachers who are on leave, Allender said.
With 50 teachers taking leaves of absence this year, the district
hired 50 new teachers as probationary employees. These teachers
believed they would pass probation after the required two-year period
and receive permanent status, Allender said.
District Personnel Services Director Nancy Gascich defended the
district’s decision to hire teachers as probationary employees.
“In 1997, when class-size reduction came in, the district needed
so many new teachers -- 60 to 80 every year -- that it must have made
a conscious decision at that time to offer probationary contracts
instead of year-to-year,” Gascich said. “There was a lot of
attrition, and we wanted to be competitive.”
Now the district has to correct that problem, she said.
“We have [notified] enough people to make sure that we match
temporary contracts to those people out on leave next year,” Gascich
In addition to the teachers, 23 other certificated employees,
including administration employees, psychologists, counselors and
school nurses, received layoff notices.
Delivery of the notices Wednesday does not mean all of the
teachers and other workers will be laid off. The district has until
May 15 to determine who will receive final notices.
District administrators said the notices were sent as part of a
worst-case scenario that includes returning to larger class sizes in
kindergarten through third grade.
Belt-tightening measures to programs and services have not been
enough to eliminate the expected deficit. Gascich said 85% of the
district’s expenditures are tied to personnel costs, leading to the
need for layoff notices.
The teachers who received preliminary notices won’t wait to see if
the layoffs are permanent in May, but will start seeking positions in
other districts, Allender said.
“Right now, the morale is so low, and the teachers are having
difficulty staying in their classrooms because of the major emotional
toll this is taking on them,” said parent Jane Page, whose daughter
attends Jordan Middle School.
Even the students are upset, she said.
“With all the other upsets in the world and with the war jitters,
it’s the worst timing,” Page said. “To have your job taken away, it’s
just too much.”
Students and parents staged a protest against the layoffs Friday
afternoon near Luther Burbank Middle School.
Sonny Sandoval, whose daughter, Natalie, is a sixth-grader at the
school, said teachers should not be laid off.
“Just as we have raised prices on gas, we should raise the prices
on other things to pay for teachers,” Sandoval said, adding that he
would support an increase in taxes to pay teachers’ salaries. “The
kids are our future. If we don’t give them the proper education, what
are we going to have? A Third World nation?”
Allender said teachers will protest the cuts at 5 p.m. Thursday
before the Board of Education meeting at City Hall.