Teachers to get notices
By Bret Bradigan
By March 15, as many as 23 teachers in
Ojai Unified School District will get notices that their services
may no longer be required.
While grants, improved enrollment, continued leaves of absence
and a clearer budget picture from the state make it likely that
actual layoffs will be much fewer, Superintendent Dr. Van Riley
said it was better to assume the worst. "We don't have solid
information from the state, but we have to take concrete, real
Riley presented his report to a packed house at Tuesday's special
evening board meeting at 7 p.m. The board had met at 1 p.m. Tuesday
with Nordhoff High School's Student Senate.
"It's a sad time for education in California," he said.
"But we will rise to the challenge and continue to offer
outstanding education to the children in Ojai."
His plan included the number of positions likely to be eliminated,
and the procedures - most of which are spelled out in the Educational
Code - for which teachers will be notified. For instance, temporary
positions are the first to go, followed by probationary positions.
Seniority dates begin with the first day of probationary status.
All other things being equal, those teachers with master's degrees
or bachelor's in core subjects such as math or science. Depending
on status, most notifications must be sent by March 17, though
for some teachers, those with probationary 2 non-reelect status,
the deadline would be June 12 - the final day of school.
Board member Kathi Smith asked if it was necessary to send notices
to so many teachers, when it was unlikely that all of them would
have to find new jobs as further grants and leaves were secured.
"My heart goes out to these teachers, but I know they'll
get other jobs. It's that the kids in the district are not going
to be taught by them," he said.
The bottom line was that the district anticipated 10 teachers
returning from leave - with a March 1 deadline to notify the
district - and 12.8 classroom reductions, for a total of 22.8
In other news, Riley said there was no agreement between state
legislators and Gov. Gray Davis on mid-year reductions, which
were expected to cost the district $580,000. The good news is
that the district had already made $400,000 of those cuts. The
bad news is that the "hurt will be moved to next year,"
Riley recommended against, and got board consensus, that the
K-3 class-size reduction plan would remain in place, even though
the district's share was $160,000 of the $800,000 program. He
said parents might be encouraged to move their kids into private
schools, offsetting any decreases in expenses.
California State Employees Association
Barbi Rice addressed the board to remind them of the role played
by classified staff - among which are the district's bus drivers,
secretaries, classroom aides and cafeteria crew. "We are
already feeling the pinch of more work and less hours,"
she sad. "These are very scary times."
Chaparral High School secretary Dorothy Johnson thanked the district
for the recent pay raise. She got a round of applause when she
challenged the district to eliminate one administrative position
on a trial basis. "We have too many administrative positions
in this district," she said. "Let's start reductions
at the top."
The meeting was entirely without levity, as Riley's presentation
about declining funding and enrollment was interrupted by a baby's
wail. As the mother took the infant from the board room, Riley
said, "Wait. We need all the kids we can get."
The Ojai Valley News
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