Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/15/2010 06:35:01 PM PDT
Nearly 800 teachers at some of the San Bernardino area’s largest school districts could lost their jobs by the start of the next school year after receiving pink slips in recent weeks.
Hundreds more teachers at smaller districts also were warned.
March 15 is the annual deadline for school districts to send preliminary layoff notices to teachers and other certificated school staff in California. The decision on actual layoffs is made by May 15, the state deadline for final notification.
“It is a cause for concern when our fellow teachers and colleagues are losing their jobs, because many have a single income, both are teachers or a family member has already lost a job because of the state’s economy,” said Rebecca Harper, president of the San Bernardino Teachers Association.
With school districts facing another year of deep budget cuts, most area school boards voted to lay off teachers and classified employees in recent months.
To date, the local teachers join 22,000 educators statewide who have received notices.
Last year, the numbers were similar, with 16,000 eventually losing their jobs by the May 15 deadline.
It is a situation of great concern, said Jack O’Connell, state superintendent of public instruction.
“Our state budget crisis has forced districts to lay off thousands of teachers over the past few years. And now the governor has proposed cutting another $2.4 billion from public education,” he said.
“While I understand the governor and the legislature have tough decisions to make, these budget cuts are devastating to our schools and impacting our ability to do the most important job in our society. That is, to teach our children.”
The San Bernardino City Unified School District sent notices to 269 teachers this year, compared to 262 teachers in March 2009.
All of the notices the San Bernardino school district sent in 2009 were rescinded because of the availability of one-time federal stimulus funding.
Resignations and retirements are expected to have an impact on the actual number this time around, Harper said.
By Monday’s deadline, Rialto Unified had sent out 155 notices, compared to 113 preliminary notices last year.
Most of those people returned because the district sent notices to more teachers than were necessary, according to Bill Hedrick, president of the Rialto Education Association.
He expects most will return again because of the large number of people expected to retire.
“While the job loss is regrettable, the services those teachers provide to students is the issue most parents should be concerned about,” Hedrick said.
In the Colton Joint Unified School District, the layoffs figure this time around is 141, compared to 52 last March. In May, 37 teachers actually lost their jobs.
Retirements and resignations made a difference then and should again now, said Bernadette Pedroza, elementary executive director for the Association of Colton Educators and a fourth-grade teacher at Ulysses S. Grant Elementary School.
Whatever the case, she is worried about the current state of education in California.
“As a teacher, I am horrified they are asking us to do more with less and it will be hard to collaborate with other teachers at other sites because they are not there,” Pedroza said. “The school district should be putting students needs first and not treating the district as if it was a business.”
Fontana Unified sent out 187 preliminary notices this month and 358 notices last year. It ended up laying off 102 teachers.
Jobs were saved by using federal stimulus money and maintaining class size reduction at 24 to one, said Alejandro Alvarez, director of certificated human resources for the district.
To read entire story, click here.