Pink slips avoided — union, district strike a deal

Five more school days and most furlough days will be restored
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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No pink slips will be issued to Loomis teachers. The Loomis Union School District and the teacher’s union have reached a tentative contract agreement for next year that does not require eliminating teacher jobs. The district and union bargaining team members reached an agreement on March 9 that was approved by the teacher’s association membership the following day. The district board of trustees is expected to ratify the agreement at their regularly scheduled April 7 meeting. According to district superintendent Paul Johnson, under the agreement no lay-off notices will be issued to teachers by the state-imposed deadline of March 15. In addition, five student school days and the majority of furlough days will be restored for the 2011-2012 school year. Tim Ahrens, Loomis Teachers Association co-president, said, “We made sacrifices last year in anticipation of future budget deficits. Because we were prepared in advance, teachers and the district were able to work out a contract this year that is both fiscally responsible and fair.” Teachers will have three furlough days, the same number as in the 2009-2010 school year. Those furlough days were originally scheduled as “staff development days” that students would have already had off. This year, district students are scheduled to attend school 176 days. That number will increase to 180 days for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year. Johnson said the district “built the budget on the worst-case scenario” that the increased sales, income and vehicle taxes will not be extended, which left a deficit of $342,000 for the upcoming school year. Jay Stewart, assistant superintendent, said the district will use $279,000 in federal Medical Administrative Activity income and $77,000 in one-time state funds to bridge the gap in anticipated state funding. “It’s a one-year fix,” Stewart said. But with no budget approved by state lawmakers, Johnson said both the district and teachers association agreed to several escape clauses in the agreement should education receive further cuts or should funding improve. Johnson said, “Both sides came together and made the best possible agreement for the district and teachers. Students will be the big winners as an entire week of school will be restored for the next school year.” Johnson said the district will begin labor negotiations with classified employees in April. Classified employees include school office staff, librarians, instructional and yard duty aides, and custodians and maintenance workers. Stewart said district teachers have seen pay cuts in the form of furlough days for the past three years. This year, furlough days equate to a 6.5 percent pay cut from 2008-2009, which was the last school year where cuts were not made. Next year, it will only be a 1.5 percent cut from 2008-2009. Teachers will continue to receive seniority and additional education salary increases - called step and column increases - per their contracts. In other district business, the board of trustees approved the calendar for the 2011-2012 school year. School begins on Aug. 18, 2011 and ends on June 7, 2012. The district will also maintain the full week off in February for presidents’ birthdays. The complete calendar is available at the district’s website at