La Cañada teacher jobs may be spared

La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation fundraising efforts have brought in $1.55 million to date, signaling that the district likely will be able to retain many of the teachers who received layoff notices in March, officials said this week.

“It is hard work for the next two months,” La Cañada Unified School District board President Scott Tracy said Tuesday. “We have less than two months to go until June 30 to try and raise as much money as possible.”

The announcement came even as the school board voted Tuesday to lay off the La Cañada High School student store coordinator, cutting a part-time classified staff position.

The coordinator’s position has been paid for by the school’s student government association, or ASB, for the last few years, said Patricia Hager, assistant superintendent for human resources.

“In a recent ASB meeting a vote was taken to discontinue the funding because the student store is no longer profitable and ASB is concerned about meeting its financial obligations,” Hager said. “What this means is a recommendation to layoff this position at the end of the 2011-12 school year.”

Hager said the district has not yet decided how to cover the responsibilities of the student store coordinator, which includes issuing gym clothes.

In March, the school board voted to lay off one permanent physical education teacher and to release 18 temporary teachers who are collectively filling the equivalent of 16 full-time jobs. The vote came with a promise to restore as many of them as possible using dollars raised by the foundation.

With fundraising at $1.55 million as of April 30, the foundation is about 10% ahead of where it was at this time last year, Tracy said.

In June 2011, foundation officials made a record $2-million donation to the district, money spent during the current school year to keep classes sizes small. The foundation hopes to repeat the effort and help La Cañada Unified maintain its staffing numbers for 2012-13.

Supt. Wendy Sinnette said that she will meet with some of the temporary teachers this week to let them know the district expects to invite them back next year. School principals have already evaluated all the teachers who were issued layoff notices, she added.

“Based on those observations and based on interviews, we ranked all the teachers in order of priority for call backs,” Sinnette said.

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