Five pink slips off the table

Glendale News Press

GLENDALE — School district officials rescinded five teacher pink slips Monday, bringing the number of remaining teacher layoffs to 72, and nearer to the high-end estimate that was projected a few months ago.

Five elementary school teachers were spared through the district's ongoing review of teacher credentials and openings at middle and high schools, said John Garcia, assistant superintendent of human resources.

"We're doing what the Board [of Education] said we were always going to do, and that's bring them back," he said. "But it's piecemeal."

In March, school board members voted 4 to 1 to clear the way for larger class sizes in primary grades, which resulted in 105 teacher pink slips. Soon after, district officials and board members speculated that the final number of layoffs could be closer to between 40 and 70 teachers.

But the district's pace of restoring teaching jobs has not been fast enough since then, said Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson. School districts typically issue twice as many layoff notices than what's necessary, and by that metric, Glendale Unified has the ability and the funds to rescind 25 layoff notices, she said.

"They are holding those teachers hostage," Carlson said.

In a school board meeting in June, district officials withdrew a scenario where kindergarten and first-grade classes were 25 students on average and second and third grades were 30 students. Smaller classes mean more teachers, and Carlson said the district's proposal would've saved 25 teaching jobs.

Glendale Unified officials nixed the possibility of maintaining a student-teacher ratio of 25 to 1 in kindergarten and first grade and growing class sizes in other primary grades after the teachers union rejected a tentative contract last month.

District officials said that forced their hand.

"A financial agreement would've allowed us to bring them back entirely or mostly," Garcia said.

District officials acknowledged their pace has been slowed by the legally arduous process of transferring teachers from one campus to another, Garcia said.

That process should accelerate this week, officials said.

"We're a long ways from done," retiring Supt. Michael Escalante said.

That 72 teachers remain on the hook has been a subject of fierce debate among the district's roughly 1,350 teachers, Carlson said.

"The numbers do not add up; this is the problem," she said. "That's why we want to [move negotiations to] fact finding because there, the fact finder will have all of this in front of them."

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