Fewer teachers laid off, but larger class size expected next year


After a Tuesday four-to-one vote by the Glendale school board, the district will be rescinding 22 layoffs notices that had been sent out to teachers in March. That is good news for the 22 but leaves 70 elementary school teachers and 13 secondary teachers still holding pink slips.
“As painful and as heartbreaking as this is, it is what is needed [to be done ] at this time,” said board member Christine Walters before the vote.
In March layoff notices were sent out to 105 teachers.
Board president Greg Krikorian added the board and administration had worked diligently to save those 22 jobs and hoped to save more before the end of the school year but with the economy of the state was not optimistic.
“We have until June 30 to rescind those notices,” he said.  “They don’t become effective until July 1 then the teachers would be on a rehire list.”
Teachers on the rehire list would be the first ones in line for substitute positions. They would also be first in line for any rehires in the district.
There are several variables behind the layoffs including the state budget and the continued negotiations with the Glendale Teachers Association.
“We still don’t have a completed agreement with our teachers and we don’t know what our May revise [will look like],” Walters said. “We still have so many enormous things in front of us.”
As is the normal practice in California, the Governor sends out his initial state budget at the beginning of the year.  That budget is dissected and debated by the legislature and other interested parties for months.  Then in May a revised version of the budget is handed down.   At times the education budget is healthier but the majority of the time it is not.
Tuesday’s vote also included a class size increase for kindergarten to third grade. The district used to practice class size reduction with a ratio of 20 students to one teacher. As of the vote on Tuesday those classes are now 30 students to one teacher.
Again the board as a whole did not want to vote for this increase but felt it had no choice.
“I do not believe we need to panic about the 30 to one classroom,” Boger said.
She quoted a statement from Walters from an earlier meeting where she had said it would be irresponsible of the board not to take this type of budgetary action.
“I challenge everyone to see what your budget would look like if someone took away 20% of your budget. That is what we are dealing with,” Boger said.
She added this would be a great opportunity now for volunteers to step in.
Boger’s grandchild will be in one of those larger classrooms next year and she has committed
to volunteering in the classroom. She suggested that others who do have the time to volunteer, especially grandparents, to sign up. There are many classes that need someone to read to the students, Boger said.
“There are things we can all do,” the board member said, adding that the community is known for helping where help is needed. “We need to work together.”
Nayiri Nahabedian was the only dissenting vote. Her concern was based on the idea that larger classrooms would lessen a student’s ability to focus and learn, especially for those just beginning their school career.
“I am very concerned. That time with the teacher is an important fact. At 20-to-one you have almost everyone [have teacher time]; at 30-to-one you are going to have a problem,” she said.