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Three teachers saved from layoffs

Fate of 16 others remains unknown
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Three Loomis Union School District teachers have been saved from the chopping block, but more layoff notices are expected. “I’m elated. The kids need to have physical education as a primary focus to teach them proper skills,” said Dustin Fee, a physical education teacher at H. Clarke Powers and Penryn schools whose layoff notice was cancelled. The district rescinded termination notices to three physical education teachers after research showed the district could continue to fund the positions, but the fate of 16 other teachers is still unknown. The district expects to give more layoff notices to classified employees after spring break. “Our goal is to bring back as many of the laid-off teachers as we can,” said Jay Stewart, assistant superintendent of finance for the district. Stewart said that even with state budget cuts, the district could still fund the physical education positions, paid for by a state grant, because of a previous carry-over for the categorically funded program. He said the grant has been cut by 15 percent for the current school year and will be cut an additional four percent for the 2009-2010 school year. According to Stewart, the district’s budget is “in a holding pattern” until the May elections. He expects they will have a firm idea of actual budgets by early June. “We’re at the mercy of the state right now,” he said. In the meantime, the district has cut down on utility expenses, put teacher training on hold, put the strategic plan in a maintenance mode and is looking at the “golden handshake” as an option to cut costs. Stewart said that any additional cuts will have to come by cutting staff. He said the state is relying on the passage of ballot initiatives in the May 19 election to fund the proposed budget and that there is no “plan B” in place. Stewart said that the district is not expecting the state to share any federal stimulus funds with schools. “The ballot initiatives are not polling well. If the ballot measures fail, I anticipate they (the state) would make further cuts,” Steward said. Aside from the budget cuts, the state has also delayed payments to schools by almost six months, creating cash-flow issues and causing schools to either dip into their reserves or borrow money to make ends meet. Payments that the district should have received in February have been deferred to the end of July. “We’re O.K. because we keep a big reserve. We’re not going to have to borrow,” Stewart said.