School Board: Furlough or Layoff Teachers?

Difficult decisions may be made in order to save money.

Written by TAYLOR EVANKO / Published February 26, 2010

On Wednesday, February 17 the Temple City School Board held a joint meeting with the budget committee to discuss ways to meet the district’s budget requirements for the next three fiscal years.

California requires that districts propose a budget for the next three years by March 15 and have a reserve of 3% of the budget at the end of each fiscal year.

The board, budget committee, and audience received copies of the different budget plans that the committee came up with after long negotiations.  The was really one major difference between the two most recent budget plans.

One option is to start creating furlough days (three per year) for all district employees and enact a step freeze–teachers not already at the top of the district pay scale would have their salary increases postponed.

The other is to reduce the class sizes in K-3rd grade and 9th grade math and English classes, which would raise class sizes from 22 to 31 in  K-3 and from 20 to 30 in 9th grade math and English over three years.

The latter would also result in the layoffs of around 21-25 teachers.

Many board members, however, expressed their hopes of avoiding as many layoffs and class reductions as possible.

“I think these are just difficult decisions. Regardless of what we do, it’s going to be felt by everybody,” Board Vice President Matt Smith said, “I hope we do the least damage to our students with the decisions we are making, but these are difficult times for everybody and tough decisions [must be made].”

Other ideas to save money were brought up as well.  Board Clerk Janet Rhee proposed to consider reducing the high school’s curriculum requirement from three years of physical education down to two, as many other districts do.

Board President Rachel LaSota even suggested that she wouldn’t mind giving up the entire district building and selling it if it meant keeping people employed.

Despite what may seem to be a bleak future for the district, Board Member Bob Ridley expressed hopes about the long-run, stating that after a few years the economy will have probably recovered somewhat and if the state will get its act together, that will leave the Temple City Unified School District in considerably better shape.

Furthermore, Emperor Elementary School Principal Kathy Perini and Superintendent Chelsea Kang-Smith pointed out that TCUSD is really in a much better situation than many surrounding districts, some of whom have had to shut down some elementary schools and enact as many as ten furlough days a year.

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