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Budget Woes Force Newhall District To Cut Teachers

Citing budget uncertainty, a class size increase, and projected declining enrollment, the Superintendent of the Newhall School District is recommending that the district activate some of the preliminary layoff notices that were issued in March.

Marc Winger, District Superintendent, is recommending the layoff of five teachers and seven temporary teachers, which have already been notified that their services are not required next year, at Tuesday's board meeting.

"This is something we have avoided in past years and it is very difficult to have to make these recommendations," said Winger. "But state budget cuts and ongoing uncertainty forced us to take the action."

The superintendent will recommend rescinding the preliminary lay off notices for 56 teachers at this weeks board meeting.

"This is the first time in the history of the district that we had to take this action," said Winger.

The layoff number is the result of a number of factors affecting the district, including: increased primary class sizes due to the budget cutbacks; projected kindergarten classes that are smaller than those from last year and smaller than the outgoing sixth grade class this year, causing declining enrollment of more than 100 students; more people on job shares coming back to full time; fewer leave requests than past years; teachers returning from leaves; no known retirements.

The teachers that will be laid off were chosen based on seniority.

"That hurts the most because those teachers that have all the energy and are technologically advanced, and it's hard to lose those types of teachers," said Michael Shapiro, President of the Newhall School District Board.  "Not to say that our older teachers are less valuable, but for me I look at is and they put a lot of time, effort and money to get their credentials and now their going be looking for sub jobs."

Some teaching jobs may be saved, but that depends on enrollment rising through the spring and summer, or if the district experiences more attrition of teaching staff.

In that case, laid off teachers would be re-employed, on a seniority basis, as required by current law.

Winger is also recommending that preliminary notices for five music teachers, a visual arts teacher, an Even Start Director, and six assistant principals be rescinded.

The layoff of one assistant principal is being recommended, along with two school counselors and two specially funded physical

education teachers.

Counseling is funded from the general fund and PE is funded by a state "tier three", flexible categorical grant.  Winger explains, "if we do not act now to lay off these categories of service we will not have any flexibility with these expenditures, if our budget situation worsens at the state makes its decisions.  These programs represent over a quarter million dollars that can be used to correct the structural imbalance in the budget. The personnel in these programs have specific credentials and lay off, unlike some music positions, fine arts and assistant principals, will not cause any further "bumping" and lay off of additional classroom teacher positions."

Winger went on to point out that this does not necessarily mean the end of these special programs. They could also be restored after the state budget 'May Revise' information is received and processed into the district's 2010-2011 Adopted Budget.

"The problem is that we will not have good information on the May Revise until after May 15th, the statutory deadline for layoffs," said Winger.  If the May Revise prognostication provides a little hope, I will be glad to recommend that PE and counseling be restored," stated Winger