Vallejo Unified will cut 248 employees

March 4, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There were tough decisions for a Vallejo school district as they had to cut hundreds of teachers and administrators.

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A handful of Vallejo teachers tried to console Anna Thompson as she learned Wednesday night she'll be out of a job, come fall.

"I'm from Pismo Beach so I guess I'll move back home. I don't have an alternative choice because how else do I afford to live with no job," said Anna Thompson, a teacher.

The Vallejo City Unified School Board voted to lay off 248 employees to help bridge an $11 million deficit. Fifty-eight are school administrators and district managers, but most are teachers and counselors -- 190 in all. Wednesday night, they did their best to show solidarity after hundreds of them walked into the meeting with mock pink slips.

"Before you rubber stamp those pink slip notices, do us all a favor and think about it. Thank you," said Ron West, a teacher.

Yet despite the protests, school board members say they had no choice but to lay off teachers and counselors. Like many other school districts, Vallejo is facing declining enrollment and less state funding, but many insist the district could have made deeper cuts in administration. The district's spokesperson, Jason Hodge, says that's simply not possible.

"This is a district that has been cut down to the bone, there's almost nowhere else to go. The fact is we have an $11 million deficit. Our commitment is that it will be shared across the district," said Hodge.

Laid off employees can now only hope that their positions will be reinstated. Many of the pink slips are expected to be rescinded when money from the federal stimulus package kicks in.

"I'm at the point in my career where I'm close enough to retirement where I can't go and do something else," said Rich Changus, a school counselor.

The district says it has never had to issue this many layoff notices before. Statewide, the California Teachers Association estimates nearly 18,000 pink slips will be given out this year.

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