Board approves 32 layoff notices

School board members on Monday voted to send layoff notices to 32 teachers and staff members for a before- and after-school program that serves more than 2,000 students from mostly lower-income families.

The vote to reduce the Early Education and Extended Learning Program — which is paid for by state funding and parent fees, not the district’s General Fund — will save roughly $1.2 million, or 12% of the current annual budget, officials said.

Included in the layoffs are 15 non-credentialed, non-union teachers and 17 educational assistants, and could push some 190 students out of the program.

Up to 70% of the revenue for the program, which provides free to low-cost child care for working families that meet state income criteria, flows directly from Sacramento, said director Kelly King.

The formula has left the programs particularly vulnerable to ongoing state funding cuts, which have come even after Glendale savings were decimated by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year, King said.

The Early Education and Extended Learning Program at Glendale Unified serves more than 2,000 students annually, including half-day and full-day preschool programs, elementary after-school programs and infant-toddler care at Daily High School. Hours typically run 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and fees are based on a sliding scale of income and family size.

The staffing reductions mean the district will close preschool classrooms at Verdugo Woodlands and Balboa elementary schools, King said. After-school programs at multiple sites will also be reduced and consolidated.

“It has got some really serious implications,” King said. “The state has told us that we have to make the cuts from the highest income levels first, so when we are enrolling our students, we are starting at zero and working our way up.”

Some of the families she works with are newly off welfare, King said, made possible only by the cheap and free child care offered through the Early Education and Extended Learning Program.

“Preschool is $850 a month,” King said. “That is more than a rent payment for some.”

Many children who are denied services will be left home alone, King said. In some cases, parents might have to quit jobs and return to welfare in order to care for their children.

“These particular programs are targeted to serve the working poor, and unfortunately those families are the most vulnerable to these cuts,” King said.

District officials said they are committed to coming up with alternatives for the affected staff and children. The teachers and assistants losing their jobs will be offered the opportunity to retrain as behavioral intervention assistants, which would offer them comparable pay and benefits, Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said.

“Unfortunately, this is one of the steps we have to go through,” he said of the layoffs. “Hopefully, if we do get additional monies down the road, we would be able to restore these like we did with [some teacher positions] last year.”

The district is already planning to open new preschool classrooms on Pacific Avenue across from Edison Elementary School and at Franklin Elementary School. But the new classes are contingent on enrollment minimums, and would be offered only at full cost.

“We are trying to think outside the box and find alternative programs. Unfortunately, we are constricted by our budget,” King said. “Where we can create new programs, we are doing that. Unfortunately, our growth of new programs isn’t going to equal this cut, immediately.”

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