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School Board Votes to Let Hundreds of Teachers Go

The 346 teachers, nurses, counselors and psychologists who will receive pink slips are considered temporary employees.

The trustees of the “regrettably” authorized the letting go of 346 teachers, counselors, psychologists and nurses at a special meeting Tuesday night.

All of the employees are called “certificated,” meaning they have a teaching credential. They are currently operating on temporary contracts, although many had previously been permanent or probationary employees, said Marcus Walton, district spokesman.

“This district must prepare for the worst-case scenario,” Jodee Brentlinger, assistant superintendent of personnel services, told the board. The district faces a budget shortfall it now estimates between $13 million and $30 million. Releasing the temporary teachers would save the district $34.6 million.

Brentlinger added that in years past, the district has been able to re-hire most of the employees it let go.  

“This agenda item is making me heartsick,” said Trustee Sue Palazzo. “I don’t know how we can restore salaries one month and then consider the layoff of almost 400 teachers” the next.

Palazzo was referring to a partial restoration of  that the district announced earlier this month. Because the finalized 2010-11 budget included more money than originally anticipated, the district restored two days to the academic calendar and some teacher salaries.

To end the April teachers strike, the teachers agreed to a 10.1 percent pay cut and five non-paid furlough days as long as they received assurances that the district would restore the days and pay should the financial outlook improve.

When the state Legislature finally approved California's budget for 2010-11 in October, it included $13.5 million beyond what the district was expecting. Superintendent Joseph Farley and some trustees say the extra money triggered the , while others—including Trustee Ellen Addonizio, former Trustee Mike Winsten and other district watchdogs—are doubtful.

Farley said the restoration of teacher salaries is a completely separate issue from the release of the temporary teachers.

“We felt compelled to honor the negotiated agreement in place,” Farley said. He added that he didn’t think he could return to the teachers union, the Capistrano Unified Education Association, to ask for further cuts for the 2011-12 year without living up to the current contract.

Trustee Bryson agreed. If the salaries weren’t restored, the district “would lose future faith and trust,” she said.

Trustee Lynn Hatton said she hoped the loss of temporary employees would encourage people to discuss and support a measure Gov. Jerry Brown wants on the June ballot to extend temporary sales, motor and income taxes.

“This is very personal to me. These are my kids’ teachers. These are your kids’ teachers,” she said. “It’s not an easy decision for any of us.”

The board voted 4-2, with Trustees Addonizio and Palazzo voting against and Gary Pritchard absent. 

Editor's Note: Trustee Sue Palazzo's name was incorrectly spelled, and her reaction to the layoffs was incorrectly attributed to Trustee Ellen Addonizio in an earlier version of this article.

Stan Lee February 25, 2011 at 04:25 AM
Leo, I think your talking apples and oranges here. The private sector union jobs have left California. When NAFTA was signed into law. The private sector unions have been substantially undercut or no longer exist in California. The primary reason for that is law makers both republican and democrats who keep piling on regulations and taxes that cause many good jobs in California to leave the state. Unfortunately, for the public section workers that are tied to their jobs in this state. Could they leave, probably yes, but where could they go to obtain the type of job they have now at the level they currently have in California. If the state law makers would remove the stumbling blocks they have placed in front of the private sector, lower taxes and quit spending tax money on frivolous pork barrel projects, business people and their businesses would come back to California, where in actuality they would prefer to be. Leo, How much would you be willing to pay a fireman like the 61 year old firefighter that just lost his life in a Hollywood Hills fire?
Questions questions March 02, 2011 at 06:43 AM
Turning into a good discussion here. I too am curious about Ellie's voucher question. What would prevent a private school from just raising tuition costs on top of the coupon. And, I do not like the idea of tax money going to support schools where I have absolutely no say in the curriculum. At least at public schools I can have a voice at local, county and state levels at what is being taught. This is important to me even though I do not have children in the system. I truly believe that an educated people will make for a better community/country - and the more we can educate the better, even if they take that education out of the country.
jeff s March 02, 2011 at 01:41 PM
wow - you think your rant at a local school meeting will cahnge federal and state teaching cirriculum? how about having a voice directly to the owner of the school? you think the pub schools will change the standards and their agenda that easy? think again, and think critically, NO WAY. we are in private school for our kids and most of the parents i know there are indeed there because of the parents' ability to influence what goes on in the classroom with teachers and administrators, in fact that is ONE OF THE PRIMARY draws of private school, parent/family influence and interaction, rather than the public mill approach to having parents removed from classroooms when they want to volunteer, punishing parents for removing their 4th graders from sex education, to include teaching about 2 mommies and/or families with 2 daddys. same thing with evolution theory and other sci/social indoctrination. public shcools - right - YOU keep thinking you have a say in what they indoctrinate the kids with.. hillariuos you are..
Questions questions March 03, 2011 at 03:31 AM
My say may be small, and I may have to follow a political process, but what my tax money is going to support in education is right out in the open. In a voucher system, my tax money is going to support private schools, who's curriculum may range from extremes of evolution theory, intelligent design, 7 day creation, and flying spaghetti monsters, to the jihad school of martyrdom. Okay, so maybe a bit extreme but my point is that you currently do not support the ideologically support the public school curriculum, but with a everyone pays voucher system, you will be supporting all kinds of curriculums that I am sure you would not agree with.
jeff s March 03, 2011 at 04:36 AM
good point and well said, the extreme examples make a good point. it's all about balance. in fact i agree w/ most public school subjects. we do private school for other reasons, our school teaches evolution and intelligent design, no matter.. it was just a point i was making in regards to the comments regarding the concept parent control in public classrooms. ...however, i firmly do believe there is no place in america for jihad schools.

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