Teachers dodge pink-slip bullet

Glendale Unified will not issue preliminary layoff notices to any of its teachers this year, administrators said, but the reprieve from pink slips could be temporary.

A combination of reserve funds and one-time federal dollars, including $4.9 million from the Federal Education Jobs bill, will enable the district to maintain its teaching staff through the 2011-12 school year, Assistant Supt. for Human Resources David Samuelson said.

But if voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax extensions in June, or if the state legislature does not allow the measure to go onto the ballot so that voters can consider it, the district likely will face another challenging time reconciling steep funding cuts with expenses.

“We just felt that we can get through next year without the layoffs. However, if those taxes aren’t extended, we will be in a really challenging budget situation the following year,” Samuelson said.

State law requires districts to give notice by March 15 to teachers who may not be retained for the following school year. Official layoff notices must be issued by May 15.

Last year, Glendale Unified issued 112 pink slips. Sixty-six teachers were later laid off, prompting protests. The teachers were hired back a few weeks before the start of the school year after the district confirmed it would receive federal funds.

Avoiding the acrimony that comes with pink slips sent sighs of relief throughout the education community.

“Part of the reason we didn’t send out notices to our core teachers is we felt that we didn’t want to cause that disruption in their professional and personal lives without knowing what the state budget will be,” said Eva Lueck, chief business and financial officer for the district.

Tami Carlson, president of the Glendale Teachers Assn., said she and her colleagues were feeling “guardedly relieved.”

“As many in our community who have lost their jobs know, it is very unnerving to face being laid off,” Carlson said.

But the federal dollars that are helping to preserve jobs during the coming school year will be exhausted come June 2012, officials said. Their attention in now focused on Measure S — a $270-million school bond measure that goes before Glendale voters on April 5 — and Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed tax extension.

“If Measure S passes, that will free up $20 million in the General Fund to use in staffing, or however we want to use it,” Samuelson said.

The teachers union, which officially opposed Measure S, has thrown its support behind the tax extension.

“If the June ballot initiative doesn’t pass, it is going to be horrible for every public school in California,” Carlson said. “In [the case of] some of these worse-case scenarios, I don’t know if we could make enough cuts to save public education.”

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World