In an evening when the Glendora Unified School District designated the week recognizing the accomplishments of teachers and classified employees, the board finalized their decision to issue layoff notices to 17 teachers.
The school board praised teachers and staff for their commitment and hard work to education, but there would not be financial rewards for their labor.
Instead, with the district facing up to $5 million in budget cuts, they approved the pink slip issuance for 17 teachers in the district -- a heartbreaking decision for school board members.
"This type of action, at this point in time, is very necessary to do," said school board member Charles Gomer. "It is again an action that is done with significant regret."
About 40 teachers and supporters gathered at the school board meeting Monday evening, many of them wearing black t-shirts, bearing the phrase, “United for Kids,” on their backs.
They urged the school board to consider other options rather than denying teachers a job within the district.
“Creative answers and sacrifices will no doubt be needed, but layoffs are just not the right answer,” said Wayne Stam, representative for the Glendora Teachers Association.
He added that in bargaining sessions, the association had offered to cover the $1.3 million the district would reportedly save through layoffs, with “extreme concessions,” – including furlough days, deferred payments and increased class sizes.
Stam insisted that district’s budget . He pointed to an increase in the cash balance and unrestrictive total reserves, as well as the hundreds of new students the district could receive next year.
In all, Stam said the district’s financial balance figures to be about $1 million more than originally budgeted.
“This is not the time to be laying off dedicated valued employees,” said Stam. “Now is the time to rescind those notices.”
But the school board was unanimous in its decision to uphold the layoff notices.
“This something we have to do because we have statutory deadlines we have to meet such as the March 15 deadline,” said school board member Mike Gautreau. “If negotiations were settled, this is something we wouldn’t have had to do at this time, but negotiations are not settled, so this is what we have to do to protect the district financially.”
With negotiations between the district and the teachers association still ongoing, district superintendent Dr. Robert Voors said he was optimistic that a resolution could be achieved.
He said districts still await word on state funding, but the governor’s May budget revision could provide more concrete answers in the budget numbers game. He said he hoped the state would be kind to education, and allow Glendora Unified to rehire teachers whose positions with the district are on the chopping block.
But the final word from the state may not come in time for Chris Rivas, a teacher from Sandburg Middle School. He is one of the 17 teachers to receive a layoff notice this week.
“I have to find another job, and finding a job is tough out here,” said Rivas. “I have a two-year-old daughter and I’m hoping to add more to my family. All those plans are put on hold until this whole thing settles itself.”