Letter: Clarifications warranted about the new budget bill

In last Friday’s Dispatch, the article

Assembly Bill Shifts Budget Power to Protect Teachers,

contained some errors that we would like to correct.
Dear Editor,

In last Friday’s Dispatch, the article “Assembly Bill Shifts Budget Power to Protect Teachers,” contained some errors that we would like to correct.

One of the statements was “school districts are now prohibited by law to layoff (sic) teachers.” The only Education Code provision that has been temporarily suspended, for one year only, is Section 44955.5, which allows districts to release employees in August. This is a rarely used provision of the Ed. Code and has never been used in Gilroy.

The other section of the Ed. Code, the one that has been used in this district every year for the last three years, is Section 44949, which requires the initial notice to be delivered by March 15, and the final notice to be delivered by May 15.

By now, it is known that the Gilroy Unified School District did not send out the final notices to those teachers who had been laid off, thereby making all the layoffs null and void. The District attributed the restoration of jobs to the unexpected increase in state revenues rather than the missed deadline; however, districts were advised not to call teachers back because the budget was still so uncertain.

As for what this has to do with the article in the paper – the article’s claim that “the proposition of furloughs came quickly since layoffs were avoided,” implies that the furloughs were agreed to after the error in the layoff process. The truth is that, discussions around furloughs, class sizes, and layoffs were happening at roughly the same time.

The district proposed up to 40 layoffs at the table on March 2, 2011. On March 7, we signed a Tentative Agreement with the District to cut three staff development days, not student days.

On March 10, the Board adopted the “Reduction in Force” resolution, and the layoffs were official, pending a hearing and the final notice. On March 14, the District and the Association signed another Tentative Agreement to cut five additional student days. The statement that the furlough days “will not affect actual days in the classroom” is incorrect.

The Dispatch also reported, “At a June 2 board meeting, class sizes were reinstated to last year’s status.” While this is technically correct (for K-8 only), it is important for the community to know that in Gilroy, class sizes are averages.

When the District claims that the class size for 6th-8th grade classes is 33, that is not necessarily the case. It is not unheard of for a teacher to have 40 students. We believe there should be a class size limit similar to many districts around GUSD. The District disagrees.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to clarify some of the issues.

Phyllis Bartu, Jillian Howarth, Michelle Nelson,

Gilroy Teachers Association negotiating team

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