21 to receive pink slips

District to vote on teacher layoffs, cuts of two programs
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Twenty-one Loomis teaching positions and two district programs are on the chopping block to remedy funding cuts to education by the state. The Loomis Union School District announced it will issue pink slips to teachers, including all of those in music and physical education, in an effort to cut $1.7 million from their 2010-11 budget. “This is a worst-case scenario,” said Paul Johnson, district superintendent. The district held a budget overview meeting on Feb. 24 for parents of its seven elementary schools, during which the cuts were announced. Jennifer Roth, of Penryn, attended the budget meeting and said she felt “completely helpless” as she listened to Johnson’s presentation. She asked him what parents could do to help and how much money it would take to bring back a teacher. Johnson said that one teaching position is equal to about $23 per teacher per student for all of the approximately 2,000 students in the district. Roth said that number was “something she could get her arms around.” The layoff notices will be issued to meet a March 15 deadline that requires school districts to notify teachers of possible layoffs and submit a balanced budget to the county office of education. According to Johnson, the teachers have been verbally informed they will be receiving layoff notices. H. Clarke Powers teacher Lindsey Dalben received notification that she will receive a pink slip. Dalben is in her second year of teaching and last year she also received a pink slip from the district. "I'm hopeful that the pink slips will be rescinded. The district is looking at different ways they can save money," Dalben said. David Beseler, a Franklin Elementary School father, said of the layoffs, “I think it’s horrible, but it seems to be minimal compared to some districts.” Beseler, a mortgage broker, said he thinks it is important that the district maintain its reserves instead of using the money to balance the budget. He said the reserve allows the district to have a high credit rating. “It’s the difference between an A-rating and a junk rating,” Beseler said. Johnson said mediation negotiations are underway with the teachers’ union, Loomis Teachers Association, but until those are finalized, the district does not know how many teachers will be terminated. He said the district has to plan for a 21.7 percent cut in state funding, with the possibility of additional cuts being made later this year. Johnson said the Loomis district has been very conservative and will not face bankruptcy like some school districts will. But, he said, “even well fiscally managed districts like Loomis are being devastated by the state’s crisis.” Last spring, the district issued layoff notices to 19 teachers and used one-time federal stimulus money to bring back all the teachers. Johnson said the school district has cut costs by eliminating a custodian and a technology position and cutting hours for clerks and other employees. Next year, according to assistant superintendent Jay Stewart, the district is proposing $250,000 in administrative cuts. The savings include $194,000 for the elimination of two positions; a staff position and the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction. A freeze in district salaries will save $13,307. Two additional furlough days for all administrative staff will save $15,562. By eliminating car allowances the district will save $18,600, and by eliminating all general fund-supported conferences, except for critical budget and special education conferences, Loomis district will save more than $10,000. Johnson said the administrative staff will have their pay reduced to match whatever percentage cut is agreed to by teachers.