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BUSD teachers safe, for now

For the first time in three years, Burbank Unified will not issue pink slips to teachers, administrators said.

The district will use $2.5 million from a one-time federal education jobs bill to maintain its teaching staff through the next fiscal year, which starts on July 1, Assistant Supt. of Human Resources Gabe Soumakian said.

“We are applying some of those funds that have to be expended this year,” he said.

State law requires districts to issue pink slips — preliminary notices indicating possible layoffs — by March 15 to teachers for the following school year. Official layoff notices must be issued by May 15.


In 2009, the district issued 128 pink slips, ultimately laying off 34 teachers. Last year, Burbank Unified handed out 79 pink slips, and 67 teachers were later slated for layoff. But the Burbank Teachers Assn. negotiated to save the jobs, agreeing to six furlough days and an increased class size of 31 students per teacher.

School districts across California have been hemorrhaging jobs since the effects of the 2008 economic recession first hit Sacramento. About 30,000 teachers have already lost their jobs statewide, and as many as 30,000 thousand more received pink slips this month, according the California Teachers Assn.

Lori Adams, a teacher at Burbank High School and president of the Burbank Teachers Assn., said the one-year reprieve from pink slips has done little to curb anxiety.

Funding from the federal education jobs bill will be exhausted by the end of next year, she noted. After that, teachers who have already been forced to accept furlough days and larger class sizes likely will face layoffs.


District negotiators have already indicated they want teachers to accept a 2.5% pay cut, Adams said.

“We can’t expect the teachers to keep taking the hits on all of this,” Adams said. “There needs to be another way to fund our schools instead of always going to our teachers to take our pay cuts.”

Negotiators also have proposed freezes to the annual raise structure known as step advances. Such raises factor into a final retirement pension, Adams said, and freezing them will hurt teachers long after they have left the profession.

“It seems minimal to them, but this is going to affect us for the rest of our lives,” Adams said. “We can’t take it too lightly.”