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Pasadena School Board Approves Lay Off of 55 District Employees

Elimination of positions tied to upcoming school closures

Published on Friday, March 6, 2020 | 5:46 am

The Pasadena Unified School District school board on Thursday night approved, by a 6-1 margin, eliminating 55 full-time positions, including some 44 teachers and four principals, for the 2020-2021 school year.

The layoffs are largely – but not exclusively – the fallout from four school closures (three elementary schools and one middle school) announced by the board in the fall. Shrinking enrollment is another key reason for the layoffs.

However, some of those employees who will be officially receiving layoff notices in the coming days could be rehired, depending on how student enrollment numbers shake out at schools around the district between now and next August, when the next school year starts, said Patrick Cahalan, the school board president.

The school board was up against a March 15 deadline, after which no layoff notices could go out for the next school year.

“It [the 55 layoffs] is a solid number as far as the official layoff goes, but in terms of how many people wind up not being here next year, it will probably be fewer than 55,’’ Cahalan told Pasadena Now.

“Because some of these people who are getting a layoff notice either will be rehired into another open position or, come August, at some school sites, there will be more kids than we projected, and we would need teachers at those sites.’’

In such instances, laid-off teachers would be brought back based on seniority, he said.

The district, which has been beset by falling enrollments and dire budget woes, expects to drop another 500 students between now and next year, Cahalan said.

Michelle Richardson Bailey was the only school board member to vote against the 55 layoffs.

Bailey told Pasadena Now she voted against the move “basically, because the majority of the staff reductions were due to the school closures, and I didn’t support the school closures.’’

“It’s staying consistent to what I believe,’’ Bailey said.

Whatever the final number of layoffs turns out to be, Thursday’s night’s move was just the latest blow in what has been a brutal year at PUSD.

In September, the board announced the closures of the Franklin, Jefferson and Roosevelt elementary schools for the next school year.

Then in October, the school board announced the upcoming closure of Wilson Middle School.

The principals of those schools were among the 55 positions axed at Thursday night’s meeting, as was an assistant principal at Wilson Middle School.

Also getting the ax were 30 full-time elementary and middle-school teachers (multiple subject) and an array of specialty-teaching positions from English, science, math and physical education.

In addition, various part-time positions were facing elimination, including an elementary-school Mandarin language teacher, a middle-school art teacher, a middle-school librarian, a high-school Mandarin language teacher, and a high-school counselor, among others.

Reportedly, the school district was facing a $4 million shortfall in its 2019-2020 budget when it announced the upcoming school closures. The L.A. County Office of Education had threatened to take over the Pasadena schools unless the PUSD could address its budget woes.

Specifically, the action item regarding layoffs said:

  • “The Pasadena Unified School District has determined that it shall be necessary to decrease the following programs and services of the District no later than the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.”
  • “It shall be necessary to terminate at the end of the 2019-2020 school year the employment of certain certificated employees of the District as a result of the reduction of programs and services.”
  • “In determining the amount of service to be reduced, the Board has considered all assured attrition known at the time of this resolution.’’

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