After the meeting…

Last night my school board (Lodi Unified School District) was set to vote on cutting voted to cut 390 teacher jobs in order to save the district from bankruptcy. I would guess that’s about 20% of the teachers in the district.

Feelings ran high as hundreds of parents, students and district employees packed the auditorium at Ronald E. McNair High School. Over a two hour period, dozens addressed the board with pleas to save both specific programs and the integrity of their schools. There was a sense of hope – initially – which left as the auditorium emptied and only the board and a few dozen die-hards remained, waiting for the inevitable.

My daughter Alexis and I gave it up at 11:50, leaving as the board debated the legal effects of adding additional district jobs and administrative jobs to the list.

But by that time they had already made their intentions clear…each board member pleading with the public to understand their position and their two choices: make the cuts or have the district go bankrupt and the state take over operations.

Neither was a choice anyone wanted to hear.

The only hope is now pinned on what happens over the few months. On March 15 pink slips WILL go out to the 390 teachers…and possibly more from other fields. Between March and May 15 the board may be able to find alternative ways to save both money and jobs. (Some strong possibilities, if they are willing to be bold, are changing the school year calendar and working with the union for furloughs.)

I’m not sure where I am on the seniority list and won’t know until this Friday at the earliest. I know I will be getting a pink slip, as will an estimated 75% of the teachers at McNair. We have the youngest, brightest, and newest staff members in the district. I know students cried last night in their speeches, hugging each other for support, as they held out hope for their futures. I know it will not be pretty and I also know that the board, faced with the impossible, made the only choice they could at the time. And I hold this out for both students and staff – keep hope alive.

5 thoughts on “After the meeting…

  1. You are all in the Lodi school district in our thoughts and prayers. I hope that some teachers who have enough years of experience and a fully funded pension consider retiring – and who knows maybe the school will not have to cut as deeply as they think they do.

    I also personally hope you stay in teaching – either at your current school or somewhere else. You are such a great teacher. Don’t give up hope.


  2. Thanks for the kind thoughts.
    I don’t give up hope…I keep it alive. And even if laid off, I have a working husband (thank goodness) and we can go into survival mode.
    The potential retirees are holding off because of the economy.
    We are all hoping that the blasted legislature and governor get over their snitty fits and agree to pass a budget.
    If all comes together, most of the jobs can be saved…
    The ones to worry about are the new teachers and the kids. The former are so passionate and care so much and the kids know that and are scared to lose them.

  3. Oh God Cyndy, I hope eventually things work out for you in the end.

    I got my first introduction to this whole blasted TV business through an instructor much like you, only to drift away for a dozen years in a different direction.

    I used to work in education, believe it or not, before I got a pink slip due to my state’s impending budget woes and went home to my first love, television, instead.

    There can never been enough good teachers out there. The best teachers I ever had were those who worked out in the real world before entering a classroom. Experience trumps going from K12 classroom to college and back to a K12 classroom any day.

  4. Some good news – at least for elementary.
    The cuts at primary (K-3) levels look as if they won’t be anywhere near as massive…the district has cut back its proposed layoffs from 390 to less than 230/thus saving 173 jobs…purely by re-instating class size reduction.
    At the high school level it still looks bad, with my school taking the biggest hits due to having the youngest/least experienced teachers.
    Oh – and they are cutting all co-curricular (stipends to coaches, class advisors, journalism advisors, etc) in half.
    That along with some other proposals at the school site mean that teachers will continue to work long hours beyond the contracted seven and a half hour day without additional compensation and from the looks of it with less compensation in some areas.
    At the LEA/Lodi Education Association meeting this past week one teacher pointed out that her son who is a firefighter gets overtime when he works past his shift, as does one of her daughters who is not a teacher. However her daughter who is a teacher is expected to put in uncounted hours as part of the job.
    Another point is that when other workers in other fields face seasonal layoffs, they are eligible for unemployment – but not teachers. So when a cannery or manufacturing plant shuts down for a few weeks or months, the workers qualify for some income. The option for teachers is to opt for the twelve month payment schedule for their salary (a smart move) or get paid as they work for each month and be left hanging during breaks and summer (ha) vacation.
    The (ha) is because many teachers spend their summer vacation taking classes to be better teachers or writing lesson plans or otherwise preparing for the school year.
    For those of you in a “quitchawhining” mode…I’m not, really. I went into this knowing the salary and conditions, albeit rather naive about the security of the job. But frankly I get tired of parents and a society that do not seem to value their own children, leaving it up to teachers to be all things to today’s youth.

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