Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/23/2011 06:14:22 PM PST

POMONA – Members of the Pomona Unified School District Board of Education this week authorized issuing preliminary layoff notices to more than 400 teachers.

School board members voted 4-1 Tuesday night in favor of distributing the notices to about 270 permanent teachers, most of them working in elementary schools, adult education and child development programs.

Board member Jason Rothman cast the opposing vote.

The notices, required by state law, will inform teachers they may not have jobs at the end of the current school year.

The board voted unanimously to send similar notices to 159 temporary and substitute teachers.

In addition, the board approved layoff notices to all administrators, from principals to district-level administrators, who are also certificated employees.

Those notices are scheduled to go out Monday.

Superintendent Richard Martinez said layoffs have been averted in the past two years when federal dollars became available.

“This year we don’t see any rescue coming,” Martinez said. “So that means we’re on our own.”

Steve Horowitz, assistant superintendent of personnel services, said the number of layoffs could change.

Some teachers could move into other positions based on factors such as seniority and areas of expertise, he said

Further state reductions in funding for programs such as class size reduction or an unexpected infusion of funds would also affect the
noticing process, he said.

“It’s all pretty mushy right now, and a lot depends on the state ballot,” Horowitz said, referring to a proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown to place a measure on a June special election ballot calling for extending the life of some taxes to provide dollars for education.

Martinez said if the tax initiative doesn’t make it onto the ballot or is rejected by voters, the district would have to make cuts of $28.5million for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

The best case, in which voters approve the tax initiative, would still require $26.5million in cuts over two school years, 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, he said.

The district’s general fund budget for the 2010-2011 school year totals $254.5million.

How much the district would save as a result of certificated employee layoffs is hard to say at this stage, Tim McGillivray, district spokesman, said Wednesday.

The layoffs of the permanent teachers could result in savings ranging from $12 million to $16 million, he said.

Factors such as seniority in addition to the chance of moving into other positions will affect cost reduction, McGillivray said.

Board member Richard Rodriguez said Tuesday the decisions board members made that evening were difficult.

In order to get some financial assistance schools need the help of voters.

“We have to get the tax measure if we want to save our people,” Rodriguez said.

School board members also voted 4-1 in favor of a resolution supporting placement of the tax measure on the June ballot. Board member Andrew Wong voted in opposition.

Wong said at the meeting that school leaders must face their challenges and not look elsewhere for help.

The district must look at the resources it has and “not put off hard decisions” he said. “It’s our duty to address budgetary concerns now.”

Associated Pomona Teachers President Tyra Weis said Tuesday her organization supports the school board decision to support putting the tax measure on the ballot.

During the meeting teachers distributed copies of a letter to be sent to Sacramento lawmakers calling for them to place the tax measure on the ballot.

By Wednesday morning about 200 letters had been signed and returned to the Associated Pomona Teachers, Weis said.

More letters are expected to come in to the teachers’ labor organization. They will be delivered to local legislators, Weis said.

Plans call for having a plan in place by next week for a campaign designed to explain to voters why the tax measure must appear on the ballot and why it should be approved, she said.

Wednesday morning teachers were seeking information from Associated Pomona Teachers, also known as APT, to determine if they would be among those who will receive notices, she said.

APT representatives have begun assisting teachers with their questions and various needs, Weis said. In the days to come, information will be available on how teachers should prepare in case they request a hearing before an administrative law judge in an effort to keep their jobs, or on the steps they will need to take as they seek unemployment benefits.

“It’s a whole ugly process,” Weis said. “It gets (teachers) distracted.”

On Wednesday, Weis said Pomona Unified has sought solutions to address the ongoing financial crisis.

“Every indication we got as an organization and individually is that they’ve been creative,” she said.

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