Though 62 teachers and certificated staff in the East Valley School District received letters two weeks ago telling them they might not have a job in September, this week only 31 of those will get a final layoff notice.
The move will save $900,000 of an anticipated budget shortfall of $1.5 million, said Superintendent John Glenewinkel. According to state law, layoff notices must be given to teachers by May 15.
East Valley High School will be the hardest school hit, losing a dozen teachers. That includes two science teachers, a math teacher, a music teacher, a foreign language teacher, a physical education teacher and a special education teacher. Trent Elementary will lose a second-grade teacher, a third-grade teacher, a special education teacher and two kindergarten teachers. Otis Orchards Elementary will go down two teachers and a librarian and Skyview Elementary will lose two teachers.
Other positions cut include three at East Farms Elementary, three at East Valley Middle School, one at the Continuous Curriculum School and one at Mountain View Middle School. Not all the positions are full time.
East Valley is sending out the notices even though it doesn’t anticipate actually laying off all 31 people. “Our goal will be to bring many of those staff members back,” Glenewinkel said. “We’ve got to plan for the worst-case scenario and then adjust.”
Part of the problem is that the budget is still in flux. Glenewinkel said he’s heard rumblings that there may still be a special legislative session and federal stimulus money is a question mark because of what strings might be attached to the money. “There are still a number of unknowns.”
Glenewinkel said he’s also looking at cutting $400,000 from the district office and trimming the curriculum budget. Meetings to allow input from community members and district staff on the budget have been scheduled for noon and 7 p.m. Tuesday, and at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday. All meetings will be in the board room at 12325 E. Grace Ave. “Everything is on the table,” said Glenewinkel. “We really need this to be a community involved process.”
Board member Roger Trainor expressed concern about waiting too long to begin the process. “It creates more havoc and more long days for us in the summer,” he said. The board must finalize its budget by Aug. 31.
Parent Ryan Roslak addressed the board and expressed concern about the level of cuts despite the levy that voters just approved. “I don’t believe the district is overstaffed by 31 teachers,” he said. “I think it’s time to think outside the box.”
In a previous meeting, Glenewinkel told the board he made several suggestions to the district’s teachers union about how layoffs might be eliminated, but union President Con Mealey said at the time that an official request was never made in writing. Since then Glenewinkel has submitted suggestions to the union in writing, but Mealey said the document doesn’t rise to the level of an official contract offer. “They’ve just pushed,” he said.
The contents of the document haven’t been disclosed, but a memo written by Glenewinkel to district staff and a teachers union informational pamphlet both make reference to increasing class sizes. The pamphlet also refers to teachers being asked to “give up control over all I-728 money” and agreeing “to ignore state law on timing of the RIF.”
Mealey said he can’t discuss what the district proposed. “It’s all bargaining stuff,” he said. “I can’t discuss bargaining stuff, legally.”
The district and the union have agreed to start contract negotiation talks soon, Mealey said, and would likely discuss issues brought up in the proposal then. The contract currently in place expires in August.
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