Glendale, Burbank teachers dodge layoffs

Teachers in Burbank and Glendale school districts will not face layoff notices this month, even as some of their colleagues in nearby La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena learn they may not be retained for the 2012-13 school year.

State law mandates that districts give notice by March 15 to full-time teachers who might be let go come summer break, making it a stressful time for those low on the seniority list, since the so-called “pink slips” are issued based the number of years of employment.

Earlier this month, Pasadena Unified officials said they would move to eliminate about 73 teaching positions. On Tuesday, La Cañada school board members approved the elimination of about 18 positions, including the release of 18 temporary teachers who are collectively filling the equivalent of 16 full-time jobs.

“These decisions aren’t made easily,” La Cañada school board President Scott Tracy said.

A pink slip is not an automatic ticket into the ranks of the unemployed. It is not unusual for districts to rescind layoff notices and bring back on temporary teachers as their financial pictures shift. In La Cañada, for example, officials authorized the layoff notices even as they laid out plans to restore the positions with money generated through community fundraising efforts by the powerful La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation.

For the second consecutive year, no such action is being taken in Burbank or Glendale, although some temporary workers have been cut. In November, Burbank Unified and its teachers union agreed to six furlough days during the next two school years, a cost-saving move worth $1.8 million.

“When you have ‘X’ amount of money, you have two ways you can deal with that money,” Burbank school board President Ted Bunch said. “You give everybody a certain amount, or you give fewer people a little more. You either have to cut people’s wages or you have to lay people off.”

He and his colleagues have made a commitment to shed teachers via voluntary retirement, not layoffs, Bunch added.

In Glendale, where the financial picture has been bolstered somewhat by a $270-million school bond passed last year, teachers are feeling slightly more secure, Glendale Teachers Assn. President Tami Carlson said.

Still, she and her colleagues will be throwing their support behind Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure, expected to go before voters in November. If it passes, it would generate as much as $6.9 billion in additional revenue. If it fails, Glendale teachers could face layoffs next year, she said.

“We are planning to do everything we can to let our parents and community members know how important it is,” Carlson said.

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