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School layoffs endanger education The Burbank Teachers...

School layoffs endanger education

The Burbank Teachers Assn. has been asked to respond to the recent

reduction in force letters sent out to approximately 25% of the

Burbank Unified School District teachers.

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First, on March 11, about 70 letters of non-reelection went out to

teachers. Many of these teachers were hired in times of difficulty

for the district. Often these teachers would step into a

less-than-ideal situation, but they would nonetheless rise to the

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occasion and do what was best for our students. These teachers were

notified during the workday that because they were not in possession

of a clear credential, they were going to be released in June and

would not be considered for employment in the fall. Some of these

teachers had entered the district’s pre-intern program optimistically

thinking the district’s intent was to give them the support necessary

to complete their requirements. Now, their records are tainted with

the mark of non-reelection which is usually a category for teachers

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who have received less than a proficient evaluation. Had these

teachers been working in the Glendale Unified School District, they

would have received a reduction in force notice. This, at the least,

would entitle them to a hearing where they can come forward and have

an administrative law judge hear their cases.

Then, as is if the tunnel could not get any darker, on March 12,

251 teachers, nurses and counselors received layoff notices. All of

our permanent adult school teachers have been noticed. These injuries

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bestowed upon our colleagues are the worst form of indignity we have

suffered to date.

What does this mean for our children? If the Legislature’s

proposed cuts are implemented, there will be cuts in programs,

services and quality education. Your child’s classes, especially at

the middle and high schools, will be larger. Some foreign-language

classes already run at 36 to 38. The 20-to-1 that was crucial to the

strong foundation of our ninth graders is being eliminated.

California’s biggest educational reform is being threatened.

Elementary classes would be filled with 30.5 students and that

means all classes, if they were to eliminate 20-to-1 in kindergarten

through third grade. When it comes to health care, it will be

compromised since there will be fewer nurses to attend to the health

needs and emergency care of 15,000 children in our schools.

Counselors’ loads could be as high as 800 students. A myriad of

programs would be eliminated or compromised. For example, the vocal

program at Burbank High School is threatened because the teacher has

been noticed. Both high schools’ baseball programs would be

compromised since the varsity coaches have been noticed.

If California were a country, we would have the sixth-largest

economy in the world. How is it possible that it cannot find the

money to support public education? Our Legislature fiddles while

education burns. California cannot continue to offer teachers as

sacrificial lambs without compromising the education of our children.

True, the state is largely responsible for the state of affairs in

education. However, in Burbank, finances have been compromised by

past financial blunders, by over-hiring of employees and by the

inability to properly track expenses. Ultimately, the Board of

Education assumes the responsibility, according to its bylaws. The

fact that the general fund was neither secured nor protected further

compromises BUSD’s ability to survive economic downturns without

catastrophic cuts in teaching staff.

BTA has never supported cuts that damage instructional programs

and hurt kids, and we have opposed cuts to support staff (guidance

advisors and psychologists) who are not members of our association.

We continue to urge BUSD not to just rely on legal counsel and number

crunchers in determining what is best for our 15,000 students.

DIANA ABASTA

KIM ALLENDER

Co-presidents

Burbank Teachers Assn.

A call to arms -- of pencils and tissue boxes

As a parent of Burbank Unified School District students, I think

it’s time to step forward. We can stand around and point fingers at

where the shortfalls are coming from or who caused them -- be it the

district, the county or the state. But the reality is these are our

students, our teachers, our schools and, most important, our future.

It’s time to look around, get that extra box of pencils, white

board markers, ream of paper, etc., from our houses and our

businesses, and donate them to the schools. I know we all have tight

budgets, but isn’t your child’s education worth $20 a month in

donations?

Take a few moments to call your child’s teacher, coach, etc., and

ask them for a wish list. If what they need is more than your budget

allows, ask other parents to help out.

I’m not willing to wait for the district, the county or the state

to straighten it out, that might take years. Our children are in

school now.

DAWNA MICELI

Burbank


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