GLENDALE — Citing an expected windfall from a federal aid bill, Glendale Unified officials on Monday said all 66 teachers who were laid off this year will be offered their jobs back when school begins in three weeks.
District Supt. Dick Sheehan said Glendale Unified to could collect up to $5 million as part of a multi-billion dollar federal aid package to states. Congress is expected to approve the funding this week.
"I'm totally shocked," said Cynthia Landeros, who was the Teacher of the Year at Edison Elementary School last year. "I didn't think this is what we were going to hear."
Combined, the aid will bring average kindergarten through third-grade class sizes down from 30 to 24, students per teacher, officials said.
"We're sorry that you had to go through this whole process," Sheehan said to a room of teachers who had assembled at the district headquarters on Monday. "We'll try to put schools back together as close as possible."
Still, the one-time money will do nothing to resolve the district's financial woes, he warned.
"Better news is we get a deal with the teachers union that ensures we don't have to go through a layoff process in the near future," Sheehan said.
But Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson said the district could avoid layoffs if the reserves were kept at the minimum level required by law.
"We have shown time and time again that the district has the ability to maintain the status quo," she said.
A crowd of more than two dozen teachers were called before Monday's announcement with a request they come for an update on contract negotiations. Many were surprised to hear board member Mary Boger begin the meeting by saying, "You all get to come back."
Some teachers asked each other if it was a prank before everyone began applauding.
"We're stepping out here on faith," Boger said. "I will be on the phone today, and I would encourage you all to get on the phone with [elected officials] and tell them they've got to get this passed."
Some teachers said they were elated to have jobs next year, but others have already accepted, or are considering taking jobs with charter or private schools elsewhere.
Eric Daines, a math and science teacher at Toll Middle School last year, said he was on the verge of accepting a position at a private school in La Cañada.
"I have a lot to think about," he said. "I'd be tenured if I came back, [but] it's been a rough experience."