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District: Teacher layoffs necessary

Spokeswoman says other measures could have been taken but weren’t. Teachers union leader wants education supporters to wear blue March 5.

February 22, 2010|By Tom Ragan

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education will vote Tuesday night on a resolution that calls for the elimination of nearly 125 full-time positions, and more than half of them will be young elementary school teachers fresh out of college.

The recommended layoffs, including the dismantling of the district’s Adult Education program and its ESL classes, are expected to save the district $13.5 million in the 2010-11 budget.

The anticipated job losses are a direct result of the state’s recent cutbacks in education due to the fiscal crisis playing out across the entire state, said Laura Boss, a spokeswoman for the district.

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“It’s important that we don’t lose sight of this fact,” Boss said, adding that the district has little recourse but to go ahead and plan for layoffs.

It’s a scenario that’s repeating itself across California, not only education but in virtually all facets of state-funded programs.

It’s always been just a matter of where exactly the district should make the cuts, Boss said, adding that lost in the bleak news of the impending layoffs are the sorts of drastic measures that could have been made but weren’t.

For example, the district never contemplated closing any neighborhood schools, something other school districts have resorted to in the past.

Nor did the district cut the number of school days in a year or institute teacher furloughs, Boss said.

For that matter, it didn’t consolidate schools or bump up class sizes up to 30 students for every teacher, she said.

It didn’t get rid of any science programs, or art programs, or music programs or sports programs, all of which, she noted, are one of the first to go during tough times.

It didn’t sell off any of its assets. It didn’t stop cleaning or maintaining its schools or ask the voters to approve a parcel tax, all of which could very well occur at other school districts across the state, she said.

And yet, more than 100 people will lose their jobs and they will soon join the legions of unemployed in the state, a sad fact that the district simply can’t escape, said Kimberly Claytor, president of the Newport Mesa Federation of Teachers, the local teachers’ union.

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