38 BUSD Teacher Layoff Notices Rescinded

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday April 15, 2008

Posted Wed., April 16—The Berkeley Unified School District rescinded 38 of the 60 potential layoff notices it sent out to teachers and counselors last month in response to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to cut $4.8 billion from the state education budget. 

District spokesperson Mark Coplan told the Planet Tuesday that 31 multi-credentialed teachers and seven counselors had been brought back to the district. 

“It’s great news,” said Berkeley Board of Education President John Selawsky. “Hopefully we will be able to remove more people from the list of layoffs. We are not going to know anything more about the state education budget until the governor’s May revise [of the budget], so we are working on this end to minimize layoffs.” 

A layoff hearing is scheduled to take place over the next few days for the 22 teachers still with pink slips, Selawsky said. It will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Berkeley Technology Academy, 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

An independent administrative law judge will preside over the hearings to determine the order of seniority for the teachers who are in danger of losing their jobs. 

“The whole point is to provide teachers with due process as mandated in the state Education Code,” said Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT) President Cathy Campbell. “The district starts by presenting the layoffs and explaining the reasons behind them. BFT’s lawyer will question any discrepancy between the teacher’s employment history and the district’s personnel records.” 

Campbell said she was hopeful the district would be able to rescind all the potential layoff notices. 

“While it’s encouraging and very thrilling that the district was able to bring back so many teachers, the fact remains that we are in this position because we have a governor who is willing to sacrifice teachers, students and education to balance our budget,” she said. “For every teacher the district brings back, it means something else will not be funded. It’s not like new money is being brought in. Our kids are going to be paying the price for these choices.” 

The state education code mandates that the district retain certain positions, including those with credentials pertaining to bilingual cross-cultural language and academic development, specially designed academic instruction in English and certain advanced degrees.  

Special education and single-subject credentialed teachers, including those teaching math and science, will be retained in the 2008-2009 school year regardless of their seniority.  

A list of classified employees who will receive potential layoff notices is to be delivered to the school board on April 23.