The Berkeley Unified School District rescinded 35 of the 55 potential layoff notices it sent out to teachers and counselors last month in response to Gov.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
The district’s Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Lisa Udell told the Planet Thursday that 26 teachers and nine counselors had been brought back from possible termination.
“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 took place at Berkeley Technology Academy Wednesday for the 20 teachers still with pink slips, Udell said.
An independent administrative law judge presided 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 President Cathy Campbell.
Campbell said she was hopeful the district would be able to rescind all the potential layoff notices.
“While it’s encouraging 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.”
Teachers at Berkeley High and Willard Middle schools are the most affected by the current list of layoffs.
Two art teachers and four counselors—including three academic counselors and one college career advisor—at Berkeley High still have layoff notices.
At Willard, three teachers and one part-time art teacher still have their pink slips.
Others on the potential layoff list include one teacher from B-Tech, two teachers at Oxford Elementary School, one teacher at Emerson Elementary School and one at LeConte Elementary School.
“Just because they have received layoff notices doesn’t mean they will be laid off,” said Udell. “The final notices will be sent out on May 14. Our goal is to bring everybody back before then.”
A majority of the teachers on the potential layoff list were hired this year, Udell said.
“These are all very good teachers,” she said. “It’s very difficult for me because I respect every one of them and the work that they do for our district.”
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.