News

Layoff notices sent out to teachers

More than 15 percent of the district teaching staff receive pink slips

Concern is growing among parents and teachers in the School District regarding the quality of education in the face of large scale layoffs announced over the past several days.

San Ramon Valley Unified spokesman Terry Koehne said that 228 teachers have received the layoff notices - 15 percent of the district's 1,400 teaching staff. The school district is facing a $10 million budget shortfall, with little or no additional help coming from the state.

In addition, a school parcel tax measure expiring in June will result in the loss of an additional $7 million in revenues. The district's annual budget comes in around $200 million.

A new parcel tax is on the ballot May 5, but Koehne said the district can't legally wait until the results of the election to determine what cuts will be made.

"State Education Code says that if anyone is at risk of losing their position, they must be notified by March 15," he explained.

That rule applies solely to "certificated" employees, those with teaching credentials. Support staff, known as "classified" employees must be notified within 45 days of the end of the school year.

Koehne said there will be cuts among classified staff.

"The next step for our personnel department is to begin looking at those type of positions and see where we can cut back," Koehne said. He added those notices will go out in mid-April.

Once the notices have gone out, the district will have to wait until they get the results of the May election. If the parcel tax measure receives the two-thirds majority it needs to pass, many of the teachers facing layoff could be spared.

"While it is too early to be certain, it is fair to say that the passage of Measure C would mean that we would come back to the table and take another look. It could mean that those notices would be rescinded," Koehne stated.

If no action is taken by the district, the preliminary layoff notices would become final. Koehne said that teachers with less seniority will be the first affected, which could mean drastic changes at newer schools with younger teaching staff. Some schools could see as much as 50 percent of their teaching staff laid off.

For those teachers still employed some will be uprooted and moved to a different school in order to provide staff at schools left with a shortage due to the layoffs.

"There will be a lot of shuffling. That creates a lot of chaos, a lot of anxiety among the staff. It has a devastating effect on morale throughout the district," Koehne said.

Comments

Posted by Roy, a resident of Danville
on Mar 16, 2009 at 6:38 am

If the School district had seriously considered switching to energy saving lighting almost three years ago this may have prevented some of the layoffs, the district would have saved an estimated 1.2 Million dolloars in energy at no cost to them, PG&E and the California Energy Commission would have paid for it.


Posted by Jackie, a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Mar 16, 2009 at 9:55 am

Almost every night, at each of the Valley's high schools, the field lights are on, with no one out using the field. I do some driving around in the valley, especially on Sunday nights, and see the SRVHS, Monte Vista, the new Doughtery High School with their field lights blazing. I suspect that the electricity for these lights must add about $2,000 a night for each school. At that rate, the amount paid for lights be better used to keep a teacher?


Posted by Janet, a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 16, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Regarding the stadium lights at DVHS...we have teams practicing on our fields every weeknight until 9:00 p.m. We have to leave the lights on until approximately 9:30 so the custodians can clean and do their required maintenance. You may not see anyone on the actual field, but the custodians are there...doing what they need to do. They can't do their jobs in the dark. The lights are not on over the weekend unless there is a tournament or something special going on. Many people confuse the tennis court lights with the stadium lights. The tennis courts are controlled by timers that the court users turn on themselves. These lights cannot be turned on after 10:00 p.m. We are quite aware of the cost of running the lights and do our best to minimize their usage. Our custodians even have the capability of turning off the lights if teams are done early. DVHS has been hit hard by budget cuts are we are doing everything we can to cut costs.


Posted by Ron, a resident of Danville
on Mar 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Give them pink slips months in advance. Another union agreement that promotes lack of motivation for those that recieved notices. This is yet another example why CA. has fallen so far behind in education. You think these people are going to give 110%? I think not. I have a kid in school in another state back east. What a difference between there and here. Its a joke when all these parents say how good the schools are here. Why do you think I have a kid out of state? For the education that CA. cannot provide.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Danville
on Mar 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

Ron, you are one of the few lucky ones who can see beyond CA schools because you have experienced that east coast schools are better and have seen both sides. Most of the parents who were born and raised here, just look at the test scores for CA; and therefore say, that SRVUSD schools are great. I guess it makes them feel better to be blind to the rest of our country.

The only reason SRVUSD schools are better than the rest of the state is because of all of the time and money that parents put into these schools. If you drive 30 minutes from here, parents don't have the time or money to contribute to their schools. It is actually pretty sad that these parents think these schools are so good, because it doesn't make them try to be better.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Danville
on Mar 18, 2009 at 11:43 am

Do you really think that turning out a light would have saved these teachers? Are you that naive? Once again the workers are the pawn in the political game of budgeting. Call your politicians, not PG&E.


Posted by Greg Marvel, a resident of Danville
on Mar 18, 2009 at 2:34 pm

I am on the school board and I want to both agree with some of the comments and disagree with others. First, on the layoffs of teachers, the law requires that we notify teachers by March 15th whether or not they might be laid off for the following year. The notice in the law has not changed for decades, even though the state's budget situation for the following year is not finalized until the late Summer, well after our required March 15th date. It is crazy, but it is the law in this state.

Second, we are well aware of the costs of lighting the fields and try and keep them on only when required for activities or cleaning and maintenance.

Finally, I could not agree more with the comments about how other states fund their schools. California is dead last in the country, even behind Mississippi. It gets even worse. Within California districts are funded at different rates based on a formula from the 1970's when the San Ramon Valley was mostly rural. The San Ramon Valley Unified School District is second from the bottom amongst K-12 districts in California. We get about $5,500 per student from the state. Compare that to Oakland Unified (over $11,500 per student from all sources) and L.A. Unified (about $10,500) and you get the picture on our funding problems. New York averages over $17,000 per student and some districts in other states easily average over $20,000 per student.

I don't believe that money is the sole answer to quality schools. A school board that enforces high standards, caring and involved parents, teachers and administrators are factors that rate higher in my book than money. Having said that, being funded at a rate that is now approaching 25% to 33% of many other states does make it extremely difficult to delivery a quality program.

The final piece of the puzzle is that the state's budget folly has resulted in massive cuts to education this year and next. Our $5,500 per student that we got at the start of this year is dropping to around $5,100 for next year, with a strong possibility that it will drop even further to below $5,000. In other words, we will be funded in the 2009-2010 school year at the same level that schools in New York were receiving in the late 1970's.

Measure C on your mail-in ballots will help to fill some of that gap. SRVUSD is asking for $144 per parcel from the taxpayers of the District for the kids of this Valley. Without it, those layoffs to hundreds of teachers, counselors and librarians will become a reality. We have no choice with the budget cuts from the state. The voters can help fill the gap. If the cuts go through, property values will drop (realtors say that the #1 factor in property values is the quality of the local schools). Estimates are that the average homeowner will lose over $100,000 in property values if the schools are decimated with increased class sizes, no libaries, etc.

We are the #1 rated medium to large K-12 district in California, and 6th overall amongst California's K-12 districts. We did it on a shoe string budget and now even that is being cut. The voters can help with the $144 per year parcel measure. It is a mail ballot that voters will receive in April with a return date in Martinez no later than May 5th.

Sorry for the long reply. However, the citizens of this Valley should now that the kids and schools need your help.


Posted by Where Are They?, a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 20, 2009 at 2:27 am

Hummmm.... A few months ago the Mormons were very concerned about kids and school and gay marriage. Whew, with millions of dollars donated by Mormons, California saved children from the evil clutches of gay people and passed Prop 8. Except now the schools in our area can't afford to teach anything to children. So, where are the Mormons now? Have they stopped caring about our kids? Why aren't they donating money to the schools so that our kids can receive a decent education? Why aren't LDS officials calling on Mormons to help save our children by donating to schools the same amount they gave to pass Prop 8? Or were they just bigots all along?


Posted by Pamela, a resident of Charlotte Wood Middle School
on Mar 20, 2009 at 8:01 pm

I have a great idea: why don't we charge for drinking water at our restaraunts and give the proceeds to the school system....hmmmmmmm.

I too am from "back East" where the public schools are wonderful. It's tiresome to hear people complain about raising taxes and yet we are at the BOTTOM of the education pile in the country.

It's time for a change.


Posted by Pamela, a resident of Charlotte Wood Middle School
on Mar 20, 2009 at 8:04 pm

(had to correct my typo..)

I have a great idea: why don't we charge for drinking water at our restaurants and give the proceeds to the school system....hmmmmmmm.




I too am from "back East" where the public schools are wonderful. It's tiresome to hear people complain about raising taxes and yet we are at the BOTTOM of the education pile in the country.




It's time for a change.


Posted by Nancy, a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Could anybody give me some advice on this? My daughter was laid off in JUNE last year. Although they kept telling her that she might loose her job, they kept stalling becasue they didn't want to let her go. Another teacher with more senority took my daughter's job, when her job was cut. It was so late in the year to find a job, but my daughter ended up taking a job in the innercity, totally different than where she was teaching - it has been a very rough year. Is there anything that can be done about this a year later??? My daughter has been devastated and still hopes that maybe some day she will get called back to that school, since that teacher is so near retirement.


Posted by Dan Parnas, a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on Apr 23, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Oh my god, I'm hoping that the general populice is not represented proportionally by the No on C posters in this forum. What kind of parent these days sends their kids to boarding schools out of state? What is the point of having kids in the first place if you're not going to parent them? If you dont' feel the schools where you live are good enough for your children, you move your family to where the schools are, you don't send your kids away without their family. For crying out loud are we living in the dark ages here? And to harp on electricity usage when that has nothing to do with the topic, it's as if the people here are trying to misdirect the topic at hand. If you care about education or property values, which I can't quite imagine why anyone wouldn't, you vote yes on Measure C plain and simple. Energy is an important issue and should be addressed, but Measure C has nothing to do with it. Have some empathy for the teachers that have received pink slips and are having to continue to teach under that spector. My son's teacher at Greenbrook has received a pink slip and I see first hand that the effort she is putting in day in and day out has not changed. Can't we come together to support our community and the educational system instead of kicking the SRVUSD and its teachers at a time when they need our support the most?

And stop for a moment all the ego trips and patting yourselves on the back, taking all the credit for any success your children might have had in the SRVUSD. For parents that are involved (instead of sending your kids off to boarding school), that is what a parent should be doing. That's part of the job as parents. We work together, with our children's schools, to make it the best we can. I'm extremely active in my children's education, but I know that Greenbrook Elementary is a phenomenal school and that my children owe a great deal to what they have been given by the school and its faculty. And my children deserve much credit too. I don't take the credit because that's what being a parent is all about. That's what being a member of a community is all about. You don't point fingers and blame someone else for your problems, you work together to solve those problems. Passing measure C is one step in that direction. Working to fail measure C simply contributes to deepening our problems. I don't want to be a part of that.


Posted by Realist, a resident of Monte Vista High School
on Apr 24, 2009 at 8:41 am

Blame Prop 13. Time for that one to be repealed.


Posted by Dawn, a resident of Alamo
on Apr 25, 2009 at 8:57 am

Mr. Parnas, if bond measure passage and state per-student funding had a true correlation to property values, homes in the Oakland district would be worth literally just under twice those in our area.

Homes in some of the most heavily populated, lowest-income areas of Los Angeles would be worth more than double ours.

Your bucket's got a hole in it.


Posted by Dan Parnas, a resident of Greenbrook Elementary School
on Apr 25, 2009 at 9:55 am

I can live with a bucket (argument) with a hole in it. Preferable to no bucket (argument) at all. What I can't live with is withholding my $12 a month just because I think there might be a chance that it will be spent unwisely, while knowing that there is a greater chance that it will contribute to maintaining a school system that I'm very happy with at a time in our economy when it is needed the most. If those of you voting no on Measure C are wrong, I wonder how you will feel then for having kept that $12 a month in your pocket. Doesn't seem to be worth the risk gambling on our schools like that, particularly now when state funding has been cut so dramatically.


Posted by Sandy, a resident of Danville
on Apr 25, 2009 at 10:33 am

Dawn, it takes time for the result of cuts that are poised to occur with the failure of measure C to come to fruition. The districts you mention have been trying to claw their way up from the bottom for some time -we will face similar challenges over time if we lose teachers, programs and support staff (eg: counselors). We are lucky here, as overall we experience a higher socio-economic status and have parents (like myself, even though kids have long since graduated) with time to contribute to this "village." Turning a blind eye to the obvious: that cuts in state spending to our schools will be detrimental to students in this community, and that we can help to avoid some of the carnage by a "yes" vote on C is a luxury this (privileged) community cannot afford.


Posted by school supporter, a resident of Danville
on Apr 26, 2009 at 9:29 am

Dawn,
Your argument is flawed. People aren't moving to Oakland and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars because of the schools. That is the case here. Many people buy specifically in this area and this district because the schools are good. And regardless of what Mr Errata says, these are good schools. So, if people are moving here because its a good district and you cut programs and teachers and the district's scores and reputation begin to sink, it will affect your property values because this area will have one less incentive for people to move here.


Posted by Dawn, a resident of Alamo
on Apr 26, 2009 at 10:52 am

school supporter,

Thank you for your comment. I was actually iterating Mr. Parnas' comments, however, and not making an argument of my own.



Posted by LNR, a resident of Danville
on May 17, 2009 at 9:49 am

I grew up in a "free" school district in Westchester County, NY. Property taxes are high in Northern Westchester and fund the school budget directly; the result is a school budget that is substantial enough to prepare kids for college and the workforce. I have never seen such apathy within a community when it comes to standing up for ourselves; changes need to be made in the resource allocation of Danville's property taxes so we get what we pay for when we buy a house in this town- dedicated local fire and police protection, a solid public school education for our kids, good roads, etc. Income taxes should be used to subsidize others benefits, which include education for lower-income areas, throughout the state if the legislature deems it appropriate. This constant reference to our rural funding in the school budgeting process must have a basis that is past its time and should be overturned, or at least be challenged more vehemently than has been done.


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