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District approves 140 layoffs
March 11, 2010, 02:34 AM By Heather Murtagh

More than 140 people working in the Redwood City Elementary School District will receive potential layoff notices, part of a larger plan to make up to an estimated $13 million in cuts needed for the coming school year.

Last night, Redwood City officials approved the layoff of 127.2 full-time equivalent positions, known as FTEs, 11 temporary teachers and nine people, not all of whom work full time, who work as credentialed administrators. Decisions are not yet final; California requires districts to send teachers a preliminary layoff notice by March 15. Final notices must be sent by May 15. The vote is one of many needed for the district which faces between a $10.6 million to $13.7 million deficit through 2011 depending on the state budget.

Layoffs of this magnitude "violate our values,” said Superintendent Jan Christiansen, echoing a comment made earlier in the evening. "Though we are in difficult times, I believe we will survive.”

Trustees were apologetic noting how much they value the employees. Trustee Maria Diaz Slocum noted she carries around a tissue and welcomes hugs. Trustee Shelly Masur got emotional explaining how she never wanted to be making decisions that negatively affect so many people.

Over 80 classroom teachers are among the cuts. Such a cut will drastically increase the class sizes to 34. Programs like international baccalaureate or access to art and music will no longer be available. Notices going out now do not necessarily dictate what programs and positions will be kept for the coming school year.

"The reality is we don’t have the money [to fund district priorities]. We’re violating on a daily basis now, and certainly tonight, what we believe. … We value these employees and it’s hard for us to do this but we have to stay solvent,” said Trustee Alisa MacAvoy.

In addition, 11 temporary teachers were also let go.

Deputy Superintendent John Baker explained in years past he was more confident in telling temporary teachers who were let go to wait, because they could often be hired back.

"It’s so hard to do this because I don’t believe that will occur this year,” he said.

Cuts also include nine certificated administers, not all of whom work full-time.

A number of factors — loss of one-time federal funds, mid-year and presumed cuts to next year’s state budget — played into the district facing such drastic cuts, said Chief Business Official Raul Parungao.

These layoff notices are part of a larger plan to meet the budget gap. Reducing the work year by five days this year, and an additional three in the next, is currently being negotiated. Previously approved mid-year cuts already reduced the number of temporary teachers, custodians and other staff positions.

Laying off people who are not teachers has a different time frame. Such employees are given a 45-day notice. Among those positions, the district previously discussed, but has not yet decided on, reducing the work calendar to 10 months for warehouse employees, child nutrition workers and those in the child development center.

At the same meeting, the board OK’d further study for relocating Orion School to a portion of Roosevelt’s campus, allowing the district to rent the vacant school for up to an estimated $425,000 savings — $125,000 in staffing and $300,000 in rental income from the Orion site. A report should come back before the board in April.

On the chopping block

California requires districts to send teachers a preliminary layoff notice by March 15. Final notices must be sent by May 15. Here is the list of credentialed positions currently on the list to potentially receive layoff notices. Positions are measured as a portion of a full-time position, known as a full-time equivalent or FTE. These positions are measured in that way.

Art specialist (1.0)

Assistant director of special education (1.0)

Assistant principal (3.8)

Counselor (1.5)

English language development coach (7.5)

GATE teacher (.5)

Inclusion specialist (1.0)

International Baccalaureate/multi years program art teacher (1.0)

International Baccalaureate/multi years program coordinator/music teacher (1.0)

International Baccalaureate/multi years program Spanish teacher (1.0)

Language Arts intervention teacher (1.0)

Literacy resource teacher (4.4)

Music teacher (4.0)

Newcomer teacher (1.0)

Nurse (2.0)

Opportunity school teacher (.5)

Outreach specialist (2.2)

Professional development coach — Houghton-Mifflin (1.0)

Professional development coach — science (1.0)

Professional development coach — special education (1.0)

Psychologist (2.0)

Reading intervention specialist (.7)

Reading intervention specialist 1-3 (1.0)

Reading support teacher (3.0)

Resource teacher (.5)

Response to intervention/student study team coordinator (.1)

Director of student services (.5)

Kindergarten-fifth grade classroom teachers (80.0)

Sixth grade through eighth grade teachers (2.0)

Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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