Features

Fifty Teachers Rehired, Two Top Posts Left Open

By DAVID SCHARFENBERG
Friday May 16, 2003

Fifty pink-slipped teachers got their jobs back Wednesday and 18 to 20 more may have their layoff notices rescinded by June, schools Superintendent Michele Lawrence announced this week. 

Lawrence also said the Berkeley Unified School District will not replace Associate Superintendent of Human Resources David Gomez and Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Christine Lim when they leave this summer to take jobs as superintendents in two other districts. 

“I can’t see filling them financially at this point,” said Lawrence, who estimated that the district will save more than $300,000 next year by leaving the positions vacant. 

The district, which faces a $4 million to $8 million budget shortfall next year, gave 220 teachers pink slips by a state-mandated March 15 deadline. But officials hoped to restore as many as 145 as the budget picture cleared up. With this week’s move, about 90 of the 220 teachers have received assurances that they will be back in the classroom next year.  

Lawrence said it could be “a couple of years” before the district replaces Gomez and Lim. 

“It’s going to hurt,” she said. 

Lawrence said she will pick up some of the slack herself and call on other managers to play a larger administrative role. 

Berkeley’s Associate Superintendent of Business and Operations Jerry Kurr is also leaving this spring, but the district has already replaced him with a new business chief, Eric Smith. 

Union officials have argued that the administration has not made enough cuts from the central office. But Lawrence said the decision to leave Gomez’s and Lim’s positions vacant is proof that belt-tightening is happening at the upper levels. 

“I think leaving these positions open is evidence that everything is going to be up for grabs,” she said. 

Union officials did not immediately return calls for comment Thursday afternoon. 

Gomez will become superintendent of the Santa Paula High School District in Ventura County and Lim will serve as schools chief in nearby San Leandro.