Pasadena Unified Board Approves New Round of Layoffs, Work Reductions

Published : Friday, May 25, 2018 | 5:34 AM

Continuing to confront its troubled financial situation, the Pasadena Unified School District Board Thursday unanimously approved a resolution to eliminate 24 more full and part-time District employee positions and reduce the work hours for ten other staff positions.

“There is no doubt that these cuts are going to be impactful,” said Pasadena Unified Board Member Kimberly Kenne, “But I want people to understand that when I vote for these cuts, it’s not because I believe in them. This is just the situation the District is in right now.”

Budget shortfalls caused in part by declining enrollment forced the School Board to pass a Fiscal Stabilization Plan in February which called for $6.9 million in current year reductions and revenue increases, and $14.2 million in reductions in 2018-19.

The Board then proposed and, after off-again, on-again union negotiations, won an agreement with teachers for an early retirement plan which should result in costs savings for the District while avoiding laying off younger teachers.

Then in April, a sternly worded letter from the Los Angeles County Office of Education—which monitors the fiscal health of County school districts—said it had determined that the District “may not meet its financial obligations of 2019-20″ unless it cuts an additional $8.15 million in expenses.

The layoffs approved last night come as the Board continues to cut and cope.

An earlier attempt to layoff a different set of 103 positions in February was blunted by a court decision last month which ruled only 84 of the positions could be legally eliminated.

The 34 positions eliminated or reduced Thursday were not on that original list.

In hearings on those previously proposed layoffs, held on April 24 and 25, Administrative Law Judge Eric Sawyer allowed 19 full-time certificated positions to be retained, leaving 84 still remaining to be terminated by Pasadena Unified at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. Judge Sawyer sent his decision to the Board of Education on May 4.

“The layoffs in (Thursday’s) Resolution Number 2456 and reductions in classified school services is mostly a combination of implementing the Fiscal Stabilization Plan items — legally laying off the people—and reducing their time, based on items that were identified in the Fiscal Stabilization Plan,” explained School Board Member Scott Phelps on Wednesday.

Voting 5-0, the board eliminated five Healthy Start case managers and one Healthy Start Family Advocate, one clerk-typist, three College and Career Center technicians, one bilingual instructional aide, three library coordinators, one program assistant, four program coordinator/directors, two senior Human Resources assistants, and three school community assistants., including two bilingual assistants.

The Pasadena Unified Board also voted to reduce hours for ten additional more positions, ranging from clerk typists and instructional aides to Community assistants and Library coordinators. The reduced hours would go into effect July 24, 2018.

A number of community residents spoke out against the proposed layoffs, with most acknowledging the District’s tenuous financial position.

“Consider the devastation you are creating,” said one parent to the Board.

Margaret Lee and Margaret Dang, bilingual teachers for Field Elementary’s bilingual Kindergarten Mandarin program, both bemoaned the elimination of the school’s English teachers.

Parents and staffers also criticized the removal of teacher Mud Baron in March from the District’s Muir Ranch. The board heard a presentation on the District’s “Reimagining” of the Ranch but took no position on the presentation as it did not call for a vote.

In happier news, the Board honored two District administrators—Dr. Mark Anderson, as Association of Southern California School Administrators (ACSA) Secondary Principal of the Year, and Helen Hill, Curriculum and Instruction Administrator of the Year, for Region 15. The Board also honored John Marshall Fundamental Secondary School National Merit Scholars, Abigail Schlecht, and Kachik Ashkaryan.

Marshall Fundamental also recently earned two other awards: a first place finish in April at the WinterGuard Association of Southern California Championships, in the Scholastic -AAA Division, and a Secondary School Civic Learning Award of Excellence.

In addition, Don Benito Fundamental School, Willard Elementary School, Pasadena High School, and Hamilton Elementary School, were named as California Honor Roll Schools.

 

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