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No pink slips planned for MV Whisman teachers

Original post made on Mar 5, 2010

Despite tough fiscal decisions ahead, the Mountain View Whisman School District will not be handing out pink slips come March 15, the state deadline for notifying employees of layoffs.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 5, 2010, 10:56 AM

Comments (37)

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Posted by Martin Omander
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm

I'm happy to hear the district managed to keep all the teachers on. While it is unfortunate that funding is reduced while enrollment is up, it sounds like the district does the best it can with available resources. I'd rather see a few special programs touching only some students cut, than a lowering of quality for all students.

Also, if you have kids in school, here is a friendly reminder to check in with your child's teacher if you can help in the classroom occasionally. It's a lot of fun, and you get an inside view of the environment your child is in all day.


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Posted by Claire
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm

--is "highly confident" probationary and tenured teachers will keep their jobs this year.

This is a misleading article and statement. Teachers hired this year as temporary teacher, specifically to avoid granting probation or leading toward tenure, will be laid off.

This will allow for class size INCREASES. Just do the math. Then ask how many teachers currently teaching will not be hired next year.


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 5, 2010 at 6:38 pm


Just using back if the napkin estimate, if the top 20% of family incomes, approximately 700 families in the district, contributed $3,600 and these funds were matched by local companies there would be no budget shortfall.


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Posted by Ines
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Agreed. A very misleading banner and article.

There will be teacher lay-offs. In other words, there will be less teachers next year than this year at MVWSD, and more children in each classroom per teacher.


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 6, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Please DO consider helping the district close the budget gap! The Mountain View Educational Foundation (mvef.org) needs your help!!! Please visit their website. You may also be able to donate $ directly to the district in a tax-deductible fashion, ask for Craig Goldman at the distict office, he is the Chief Financial Officer. Write a letter to the editor and ask the MV based multiple-billion dollar corporations to GIVE generously to save those 11 teachers' jobs and keep class sizes small. The money is NOT going to magically appear from Sacto.


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Posted by Temp Teacher
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2010 at 1:49 pm

HELLO!!!!

"district plans to cut 11 staff positions in elementary schools, but that he is "highly confident" probationary and tenured teachers will keep their jobs this year.

THIS MEANS 11 TEMPORARY TEACHERS WILL BE FIRED. THIS IS HAIR SPLITTING ON THE PART OF THE DISTRICT OFFICE!!!! YOU CAN'T GIVE THE CATEGORY OF TEMPORARY TEACHERS PINK SLIPS.

THE VOICE HAS BEEN DUPED AGAIN!

THE ARTICLE TITLE SHOULD READ "No pink slips planned for probationary or temporary MV Whisman teachers: All other at risk."


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Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm

This is embarrassing indeed since the district employs many teachers who do not fit into the categories of probationary or tenured.

The reporter should go back and ask how many fewer teachers of any type will be laid off this year. The reporter should also brush up on the inquire on the difference between temporary, probationary and tenured teachers. How many of each type does the district currently employ.

But be careful, this district is well known for misleading the public if one thinks about the Ghysels situation. BTW, who will be the superintendent next year anyway?


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Posted by Don Frances
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Mar 8, 2010 at 11:08 am

Don Frances is a registered user.

As quoted above, district CFO Craig Goldman predicts, at this juncture, that MV Whisman will cut 11 temporary teachers this year. This seems very straightforward to me.

"Temporary" means not permanent. I've been let go as a temporary worker in other jobs in my life, and would never describe that as being "laid off." Layoffs are what happens to permanent employees.

So where's the part where everybody was duped? Where's the hair-splitting?

An arguably more in-depth discussion on this issue can be found here: Web Link.


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Posted by Connie
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm

Don:

An average member of the public would read the title, "No pink slips planned for MV Whisman teachers" and conclude that no teachers will be laid off. Fair enough? BTW, do you know how many temporary teachers the school district employs? Per school site? The answer might surprise you. Besides that, this issue is directly tied to looming increases in class size. So, regardless of what category a teacher falls into--tenured, probationary, or temporary--the community is affected by the cuts. That's what I believe is misleading here.

I don't know about others, but I chose what article I read in a paper based on the headline. This one is deceiving in my mind, but not necessarily at the fault of the reporter or The Voice.


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Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

What constitutes a "temporary teacher"? Is this any non-tenured teacher? Just first year teachers?

My oldest has a teacher new to MVWSD this year. She is exceptional and I would hate to see her go.


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Posted by John the Man
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Awesome! So the district can continue to be a poor-performing district without laying off any of the poor-performing tenured teachers! That's just swell!


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Posted by Big Al
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I too must be reading a different version than the editor. Staff positions are usually interpreted as non-teaching.

To get a technical for a momemnt, what Don writes in his post is not in the article: 'As quoted above, district CFO Craig Goldman predicts, at this juncture, that MV Whisman will cut 11 temporary teachers this year. This seems very straightforward to me.'

From my experience working with this district, this is more spin than than fact. Take something negative and spin it positive.

Cut and pasted from the artile:

"the district plans to cut 11 staff positions in elementary schools, but that he is "highly confident" probationary and tenured teachers will keep their jobs this year."

"Goldman said this class size ratio would accommodate growing enrollment for next year, and also allow the district to eliminate 11 staff positions and 20 classrooms in its elementary schools."

"The eliminated staff positions would be accounted for by retirees, those leaving the district on their own, and by not renewing some temporary contracts."

Why not be more specific and define which staff positions (teacher positions?) or by saying "by not renewing some temporary teacher contracts"???


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 8, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I've read this article several times. A more appropriate title would have been.

"Twenty classrooms to be eliminated and teacher positions cut."

That's what I took away. In other words, that's what stood out in my mind after reading. Teachers retire, classrooms with children in them don't.

What ever happened to just simple logic and stating the truth folks? Everyone spinning facts all the time, while the system spirals downward.


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 8, 2010 at 10:59 pm

This is all very sad and I think the real focus needs to be on overall dismal school funding. To refer to an article I saw in Friday's Chron re: the utter failure of our state to get even $1 of the Obama "Race to the Top" BILLIONS in school funding being handed out this year, California ranks 47th LOWEST nationwide in cost-of-living adjusted per-pupil funding. I can only imagine that with these cuts coming, we may drop LOWER. So, quibble about headlines? I too would like to see a more honest assessment: "Rock bottom state funding drops again--more teachers lost, class sizes increase to unacceptable levels". Don, how about trying something that spurs people to act?? Or gets our local corporations to take notice? Are we just going to sit back and let these kids merge into giant classrooms full of "experienced" (read: tenured, un-fireable) teachers with zero classroom supplies, librarians, janitors?
One MAJOR (if not the only) reason CA schools did not qualify for the federal funds is the Unions. The Race to the Top required that Unions allow for student performance-based teacher evaluations, and our CA teachers said "NO!". One half of the districts who signed on to the RTTTop application had NO signatures from their unionized teachers. THANKS GUYS!!! These are YOUR jobs we are trying to save!
Another data point: In Philadelphia, which is considered a lowly, inner-city district in another Yahoo article I read (it's about a fascinating IT scandal), funding runs about $12k/student/year. They compare it to a "wealthy" district nearby, Lower Merion, PA, which I'm sure has fewer tech jobs and Stanford grads than MV! They spend (public school folks!!) $21,000 per child/year and give each child a Mac computer! Our district is lucky to get about $8K from the state and a few hundred from the parcel tax and donations. Correct me if I'm wrong, district personnel. This is about 40% less than "underfunded" Philadelphia, and about 60% less than Lower Merion.
So, let's not belittle the loss of ANY teachers, temporary or not. MVWSD is in a dire situation and the entire state is in a "Race to the Bottom". I would like to see some coverage of how we can get OUT of this mess, or at least avoid class size increases, teachers layoffs/staff reductions (thru retirement or what have you--they are still losses in personnel). Thanks to Don and others for your thoughts!!


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Posted by John the Man
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 9, 2010 at 10:25 am

localmom, the only thing special about your opinion is that it is yours. You don't know jack about unions.


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 9, 2010 at 11:48 am

To John the Man, I'm really sorry you feel that way. I'm just re-stating the analysis of the Chronical's reporters, which made it clear that the winning states in the Race to the Top to win federal stimulus dollars had full cooperation from teachers unions in reforms and they signed on to the applications. Please see below:

"Why did California fail Race to the Top test?
Saturday, March 6, 2010
One thing that definitely went wrong was the attitude of the state teachers' unions. Union leaders fought the reform legislation at every turn and managed to water down the package that eventually passed in January. Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, even said he wasn't sorry that California lost the first round. And in part because of these kinds of feuds within the education community, lots of California school districts opted out of participation in Race to the Top. In Kentucky, every single school district signed on.

It won't be easy to unite the educational community behind reform legislation, especially in an election year. But if free money and our children's future isn't incentive enough, nothing will be."

Read more: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm


I think the PTAs with the MVEF should organize a voluntary fee system where folks pay according to their ability and we try to get some matching from businesses. A lot of folks are getting a great deal with free education even after you take into account property and state income taxes. The quality of education I've seen in mountain view is very high, everyone works very hard, and it's time we funded it properly. No point in waiting for the feds, state, or local government to do something.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robin Iwai
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Mar 9, 2010 at 3:15 pm

PLEASE take this discussion to the district's Budget Forums and school board meetings!

You don't have to have children at the school, anyone in the community is welcome to attend any of these meetings.

******************************************************************************

Tuesday, March 9, 4:30-6 p.m. at Bubb Elementary

Thursday, March 11, 6:30-8 p.m. at Castro Elementary

Monday, March 15, 6:30-8 p.m. at the District Office

Tuesday, March 16, 6:30-8 p.m. at Monta Loma Elementary

Tuesday, March 23, 4-5:30 p.m. at Landels Elementary

Tuesday, March 23, 6:30-8 p.m. at Crittenden Middle School

Tuesday, March 30, 4:15-5:45 p.m. at Stevenson Elementary

Tuesday, March 30, 6:30-8 p.m. at Theuerkauf Elementary


 +   Like this comment
Posted by kelsey mesher
Mountain View Voice Staff Writer
on Mar 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm

kelsey mesher is a registered user.

Please note that the Bubb forum will take place Wednesday, March 10--not Tuesday.

This was listed in error on an initial schedule put out by the district. The Bubb site council and the district office have both confirmed that the forum is indeed scheduled for Wednesday, during the regular Bubb site council meeting.


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Posted by District Insider
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2010 at 5:25 pm

My sources tell me that more than 20 temporary teachers have been notified that they will receive pink slips and that the district will cut 11 or more classrooms and increase class sizes next year. A few of the temporary teachers will be hired back, but they must wait until April to interview.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 9, 2010 at 6:29 pm

District Insider, can you clarify what a "temporary" teacher is? Is it any teacher without tenure? Or teachers new to the district this year? Or something else? I'm unclear on who exactly this affects.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 9, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Yeah, no kidding. It's hard to tell from this article. Somebody please explain.


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Posted by teacher mom
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2010 at 7:19 pm

All districts hire teachers as temporary. If you're a talented and effective teacher you are then classified as probationary the following year. A teacher is probationary for several years before they become tenured. Temporary teachers are let go every year regardless of the budget. Some teachers simply aren't a good fit for the district (this is generally speaking for most districts).


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

If Cupertino can do it so can we.

Web Link


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Posted by Margaret
a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 9, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Dear James,

I like your idea - how do we go about doing it?

(James wrote:
I think the PTAs with the MVEF should organize a voluntary fee system where folks pay according to their ability and we try to get some matching from businesses. A lot of folks are getting a great deal with free education even after you take into account property and state income taxes. The quality of education I've seen in mountain view is very high, everyone works very hard, and it's time we funded it properly. No point in waiting for the feds, state, or local government to do something.
)


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Posted by mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 9, 2010 at 9:47 pm

I am very glad to see that our school district is choosing to keep an investment in classroom teachers and not proposing an increase in class size that would make classes 50% bigger, particularly at the K-2nd grade levels. My daughter's teacher is an outstanding, truly talented young teacher who is fairly new to the district, but has been around long enough to be past the "temporary" status. However, she would probably be targeted for layoffs based on seniority if the district chose to severely chop numbers of teachers. As a parent, it has become very clear to me based on my daughter's experiences in her Mountain View school that far and away the most important thing in a child's education is his/her classroom teacher. My daughter has been fortunate to have excellent and truly exceptional teachers during her time in Mountain View schools.

What concerns me is that in a district where the achivement gap is large between low-income and middle/upper-income kids, I worry that making all of the early grades at all schools go to a 25 to 1 ratio will make it tougher to meet the needs of low-income kids in particular. My kid is beyond those grades so it won't directly impact her, but I know that it would have been much more difficult for her kinder and 1st grade teachers to have addressed the needs of the low-income kids if they were having to deal with 25 kids.


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 10, 2010 at 9:08 am


Thanks, I think there are some women in the PTAs and MVEF that are great at organizing things like this, I'm just a organizationally challenged male. :)

I don't like the Cupertino flat fee model, I like some percentage of AGI or income minus living expenses, 5% would be the threshold of pain for me, but without district income data don't know if that would be enough.

(Margaret wrote:

I like your idea - how do we go about doing it?

)


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Posted by sam
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 11, 2010 at 10:26 am

Increasing class sizes from K-3 is a really bad idea.


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Posted by Leonide
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Increasing class sizes will put the last nail in the coffin of MV schools. This will be the beginning of the end of progress. Wake up people, before it's too late. Demand something different.


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Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 11, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Well that's really sad to hear what a temporary teacher is. I am guessing this means my child's amazing teacher (new to the district this year) will not be returning.


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 14, 2010 at 11:54 pm

To Margaret, James, and others interested in how to increase funding for the schools on a local level:
There are two ways. One is the parcel tax, which, if you live in MV, you are already paying and which was approved by voters a few years back. I think it's about $175/household. It is not too painful. If you look at better-funded districts like Los Altos and Palo Alto, you will notice that THEIR Parcel Tax is $700 or more per household per year. That's one way to make a HUGE difference in local school funding.
To increase the PT, you need to appeal to the school board and get it on the ballot. These are not small matters. The Board must approve the idea, and then a committee of citizens must cough up the $$ to fund the campaign, which can run into the multiple tens of thousands. I think the last few successful PT campaigns were in the $40K range. Then 66.6% of voters must approve an increase.
The other local funding vehicle already excists, it is the Mountain View Educational Foundation. Each family in the district is already asked to donate, at some nominal amount. My kids have aged out so I'm not sure how much, but I think it's about $200/family. This is CLEARLY not enough. The foundation (see mvef.org) is raising about $300,000/year. Nearby districts with similar numbers of kids (Los Altos and Palo Alto) are raising nearly $2 MILLION/year. They ask for about $800/student/year.
So, these funding mechanisms exist. Any donation to the MVEF is tax-deductible and goes only to help the district, virtually no overhead. It is a great organization. However for some reason businesses give it virtually ZERO and parents don't all contribute.
There is another school out there that does GREAT with donations I have heard, but it's a charter, the Bullis Charter School. They too have a foundation that asks for about $4,000 per kid per year and people generally cough it up. I think the closer you are to the source, and seeing that money being used on your child, the more liekly you are to GIVE. In any case, the state is broke, so these are the only 2 ways I can think of. Plus, the foundation already exists and all donations are 100% tax deductible!!! Visit mvef.org. They will take money from corporations as well, and matching donations from employers, etc. They also have an event coming up on 3/27 at the computer history museum which is a fundraiser!!
BUT there is no harm in asking, and asking for MORE than we currently do in MV. It is urgently needed.


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 15, 2010 at 7:57 am

I realize I left out the city in my post; the Shoreline funds are now excessive, and clearly salaries and other funds are over the top. The city CAN step up to the plate if they value home prices and residents and VOTES. There is no law preventing them from allocaitng funds (other than when they currently spend to mow the lawn at the elementary schools and host some sport team practices) to education. Go the the City Council and make some noise!!


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Posted by Sid
a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 23, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Board Meeting Minutes March 4, 2010

Closed Session Report: Ms. Wheeler reported that the Board voted 3-0 (Ayes: Olsen, Walter, Wheeler) in Closed Session to release 39 temporary teachers effective June 11, 2010.

I wonder if ex-board member and now Landels Teacher Gloria Higgins was one of them...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV Mom
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 23, 2010 at 6:56 pm

The first person to get a pink slip is Ghysels. And then recall the board starting with Wheeler and Walter and Olsen.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Gloria
a resident of Castro City
on Mar 27, 2010 at 7:26 am

To Sid,

Yes I was.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MV Teacher
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Interesting. It's just terrible new and aspiring teachers are getting laid off. I really don't distinguish or place much value on the difference between temporary, probationary or tenured. Still this district flirts with conflicts of interest way too much. I encourage and hope you can find work at another district, but at the same time I don't think that former board members should ever have been considered, nor even received any preferences to begin with, for teaching assignments in their former district particularly in a tight labor market and when the principal of the school is involved in a relationship with the very superintendent whom the former board member hired, and who, in turn, under whose conflicted leadership the former board member, now new teacher, was quickly hired by and now laid off as a temporary with the chances of being one of the select few to be hired back. This whole situation is just way too messy and wreaks of conflicts of interest, real, perceived, imaginary or whatever. In addition, the former board member who sought and is perhaps now seeking continued employment in the district was once actively engaged in raising administrative salaries during their tenure on the board (to include adding an additional 8th step and column to the administrative pay scale which previously only had 7) while teacher salaries and pay scales remained stagnate. This does not exactly sit well with the teachers' union. And let's not forget, the assistant superintendent who supervises new temporary teacher hiring and re-hiring was even awarded a new title (from Director to Asst. Supe) and also received upwards of $10,000 in raises (from both the new admin step and column and new position/title) during the former board member's tenure. And let's also not forget the generous retirement salary spiking of the retiring superintendents past, or the closing of Slater school, all of which have added to the sinking of this state and district over time. So please, let's just save this district from more embarrassment and conflicts of interest by asking former board members, turned now aspiring and successful teacher, to take a step outside their former district and find a great position elsewhere for the greater good of all. It seems only fair that all temporary teachers should have the same level playing field in being hired back. As the situation currently stands, there is too much conflict of interest here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Carl
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm

How the hec did teacher lay-offs go from the projected 11 to 39?

This district is just way too full of self-licking ice creams.


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