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52 teachers could lose jobs

Original post made on Mar 25, 2011

A total of 52 teachers in the Los Altos School District have been notified that they may lose their jobs -- an announcement that has drawn criticism, impacted teacher morale and may ultimately lead to unnecessary loss of staff, district officials said.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 25, 2011, 10:55 AM

Comments (24)

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Posted by Thom
a resident of Jackson Park
on Mar 25, 2011 at 11:42 am

This is nothing short of sad. At a time where our children are growing up with less morals we need more teachers that are dedicated to the children in the communtiy.

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Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm

I take exception to many aspects of how government conducts business, and believe there is ample opportunity to increase efficiencies in the bureaucracy for cost savings.

However, laying off teachers, with the current methodology in place, risks losing high potential, high performing teachers that are needed to improve education performance in this country.

Cost cutting alone will create new problems, if fundamental change on how teachers are rated and promoted isn't examined. The use of tenure has its advantages, but also presents obstacles in removing teachers that underperform. Systems that remove the incentive to perform, inevitably lead to abuse.

If we truly value education and want to elevate the teaching profession, a competitive salary is a must, and is consistent with how we compensate people for their occupation. If we truly want to enable these teachers to achieve, then we need to recognize and reward good performance, and penalize bad performance.

As it goes at the federal, state and local levels, we need to restart/reset the conversation, from a question as to whether there is enough money to do the job, to how to best utilize the money that we have. Cutting expenditures through layoffs or adding funds through taxes is immaterial, when the mechanism for spending those dollars is broken.

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm

This is all just a scare tactic as old as the hills school districts uses to instill fear in the voting public so they approve more tax increases. It happens every year, and this year is no different. Los Altos School District is hardly hurting like other districts. Many will be laid off and hired back. Some won't, and that should be viewed as a savings in a down economy. Just look up past articles.

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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Look at what austerity has given Britain, negative GDP growth, Keynes was right, cutting government spending in an economic downturn risks deflation, falling asset prices like your house.

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Posted by Al
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Teachers should not be laid off, that is unless they are bilingual teachers for illegal immigrant children. Stop subsidizing and promoting the Day Workers Center. Close the place. These are illegal immigrants and we should not be helping them find jobs. They do not pay taxes. We have plenty of American citizens to do the work and they pay taxes.
Charge the illegal immigrants who have children in our schools as mentioned above, the do not pay taxes but yet enjoy benefits of taxpayers.
Charge the illegal immigrants when they go to our hospital emergency wards when they are ill. American citizens who go to the emergency wards must show proof of citizenship and insurance coverage. We are not saying turn them away, but make them pay for their services. A few years back, illegal aliens sent over 40 billion dollars to their home country.
When they are pulled over for a traffic violation and cannot show proof of citizenship or insurance, impound the cars, fine them. Make them pay to get their cars back, then fine them again for not having drivers licenses.H
We could go on and on but we are getting sick of paying the illegal aliens way in our City.
The City could save millions of dollars by cutting back on services to illegal aliens. I understand the cities are stuck with 75% of the cost of services for illegal aliens

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Posted by HoleInTheHead
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm

[Someone paid $75 million last month for a 25,500-square-foot mansion in Los Altos Hills -- complete with its own carwash -- the biggest price tag for a house in Santa Clara County history. The big mystery is who.] Maybe "who" could chip in?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm

LA Educational Foundation is raising over $2mil, the individual school's PTAs raise $30k+ per year, the students start kindergarten well prepared and are continually supported at home if they fall behind, there are very few "economically disadvantage" kids in the district, & there are very few non-English speakers, yet the district can't figure out how to make do without asking for more money every year. Who's running this show and why do they still have jobs?

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Posted by Ted
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

The school district thinks that only the school district is having financial troubles. Private business and private homes are having trouble too. But we don't get to rely on the possibility or raising more tax revenue through ballot measures. We have to tighten out belts and get through it the hard way, by making sacrifices and cuts.

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Posted by Alexander
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2011 at 4:22 pm

According to the district website, revenue, expense per student and total teacher pay peaked around 2007-2009. This makes me think when the real estate bubble burst, school funds hit a wall, which makes sense. the Los Altos Foundation has increased its support but parcel tax hasn't increased for many years. Its a hard time for everyone but the other option is to let the schools starve for lack of funds. I don't know anyone who would suport such a position on education. I support support Measure E and I won't take my exemption as a senior citizen. I can afford 200 more dollars to help our schools

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Posted by MV Mama
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 25, 2011 at 4:43 pm

There were pink slips handed out in MVWSD also. Would love to see an article on that.

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Posted by kathy
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 25, 2011 at 5:14 pm

How come we never hear about School administrators losing their jobs? There is way too much overhead.

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Posted by New Father
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 25, 2011 at 7:38 pm

For those that are curious, the LASD publishes a fairly easy to read budget summary on their website: Web Link

If you want the full scoop you can find it there as well: Web Link

It's not that the district is simply asking for more and more money every year. Funding has dropped (biggest detractor is the reduction of state funding), while costs have risen (biggest contributor is rising benefits costs of employees). Operating revenue grew slightly from 2006 through 2008, but decreased again after that to the point where available revenue is below 2006 levels (by > $2mil). Budget outlay towards certified (teacher) salaries has increased only 2.5% over 2006 levels (and is lower than 2007 levels), but the cost of benefits has gone up (by > $1.5mil, 1/2 of which covers the cost of health insurance for employees, 1/3 of which covers pension obligations). Classified salaries (administration) salaries has increased 8% over 2006 levels, but is actually flat compared to 2007 levels. A 1% year-over-year bump for teachers and 2% year-over-year bump for administrators is hardly extravagant, but in the face of budget troubles, I'm sure cost savings will have to come out of anywhere possible.

For the matter, my wife and I will be voting "Yes" on Measure E.

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Posted by Long_Story
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm

[California Schools Feeling the Pinch: California’s seemingly intractable budget and cash-flow problems have hit school districts hard, forcing many to enter into increasingly complex arrangements to keep cash flowing.]

ALAMEDA, Calif. — California’s seemingly intractable budget and cash-flow problems have hit school districts hard, forcing many to enter into increasingly complex arrangements to keep cash flowing, experts said.

The large majority of California’s more than 1,000 school districts are heavily dependent on state funding for operations, and school funding takes the largest share of the state’s general fund budget pie.

That’s a problem for school districts because the state has less money to spend than it did three years ago. General fund spending in fiscal 2010 was $87 billion, down from $103 billion two years earlier, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

For K-12 schools, budget writers and lawmakers have limited outright cuts by using deferrals — rescheduling to a later date payments the state is scheduled to make to school districts.

“In general, the deferrals have gotten larger and spanned longer periods of time,” said Standard & Poor’s analyst Gabriel Petek.

It’s not small change, either. The state plans to defer $7.4 billion of payments due to schools in fiscal 2011 until after fiscal 2012 begins July 1.

Gov. Jerry Brown took office this year pledging an honest and accurate budget, but school payment deferrals represent one can he plans to keep kicking down the road.

In fact, the budget proposal he made in January would add $2.1 billion in new deferrals shifted from fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2013, and defer some scheduled payments by seven months, according to an LAO report released in February. At the moment, the longest single deferral is for five months.

The deferrals have made it much more complicated for school districts to manage their cash flows. Typically, California’s districts smooth out cash requirements through the year by issuing tax and revenue anticipation notes.

But Trans issued for one fiscal year need to be repaid with revenue from the same fiscal year.

“If it crosses a fiscal year, then it becomes a debt,” Petek said, which means voters would have to approve it.

But when money a district is owed in one fiscal year is not paid until several months into the next, it’s hard to track.

“This is becoming increasingly complicated from a cash-flow perspective,” Petek said.

“We’re seeing situations where we see districts with more than one [Tran] issue outstanding at one time,” he said. “There’s an increased general level of complexity.”

It’s not hard to see why lawmakers resort to deferrals — it allows them to spend less money without requiring them to say they are cutting anything.

“If the state adopts a payment deferral rather than a cut, districts can continue to operate a higher level of program despite the one-time reduction in state spending,” the LAO wrote.

But as deferrals grow, it becomes increasingly hard to imagine that there will ever be a return to the “normal” schedule of transfers to schools from the state general fund.

“That will mean a doubling up of the expense for the state in a given fiscal year,” Petek said. “I don’t see that on the horizon.”

The LAO report suggested that there will be a reckoning somewhere down the line.

“The major problem with using payment deferrals as a budget solution is that they authorize school districts to operate a ­program the state cannot afford,” it said.

“To maintain higher levels of programmatic spending, school districts must use seemingly questionable accounting and borrowing practices,” the LAO said, noting that districts can only borrow as long as there are lenders.

“Ultimately, the districts will need to adjust the size of their programs to accommodate the reality of the level of funding they’re getting in the longer run,” Petek said. “Otherwise, there will be pressure on their financial position and credit.”

Many districts are already feeling pressure.

About 30% of California schoolchildren attend schools in districts facing financial jeopardy, according to a report released this week by the California Department of Education.

According to the semiannual report, 13 school districts received a negative certification — meaning they appear to be unable to meet their financial obligations either for the remainder of the current fiscal year or the next one.

Another 97 districts received a qualified certification. That means they may not be able to meet financial obligations for the current or two subsequent fiscal years.

“The emergency confronting California’s schools is widening and deepening,” said Tom Torlakson, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, when he released the report Monday.

That 110 school districts are on this week’s financial watch list points to the stress caused by several years of state budget shortfalls. Three years ago when the same report was released, only 36 districts were on the list.

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Posted by Teacher mom
a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

MV Mama,
MVWSD is in good shape (all things considered) and did not have to lay anyone off.

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Posted by Gary
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 26, 2011 at 2:19 am

@New Father:

"Funding has dropped (biggest detractor is the reduction of state funding), while costs have risen (biggest contributor is rising benefits costs of employees)."

You are absolutely right. Funding has dropped and costs have risen for taxpayers? Gas may reach $5 a gallon. The Feds, State and Cuty are all raising taxes and fees. Unemployment is at an all-time high. You don't think anyone is hurting? Just the school distict? Where is our bail out? Where and to whom can we turn to for an increase in revenue.

I hope you never find yourself in the same boat.

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Posted by CBFLa
a resident of another community
on Mar 26, 2011 at 8:37 am

Prop 13, enough said. When property tax revenues continued to rise the schools saw increased funds. With the downturn of the housing market, property values declining and residents requesting a revaluation of their property taxes means less revenue for the school districts. Therefore, the school districts need to raise funds through parcel taxes, which are flat taxes that are disproportionate to the market value of homes. So, everyone can say cut benefits, raise taxes, cut programs and teacher. However, if the real crux of the matter doesn't get addressed (Prop 13), then the entire state will suffer in the future when we are in a downturned economy. I bet Howard Jarvis never thought about the consequences of a bad economy all those years ago when California had such surplus.

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Posted by New Father
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 26, 2011 at 8:52 am


You're right as well about the school district not having a monopoly on tough times, and our household isn't free of penny pinching these days, either. Also, I realize the luxury of choice isn't there for everyone (yes, some folks have already cut discretionary spending and are having a tough time paying for essentials), but this is where each of us votes based on our own beliefs. Ours happens to be that we must support our schools even if it means tightening our own belts.

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Posted by Need to ask
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 26, 2011 at 9:11 am

New Father:

So your beliefs hold that vote yes to raise everyone's taxes during a recession, even for those who can't afford it? Why not just donate money to the district's educational foundation?

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Posted by Claire
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 26, 2011 at 9:17 am

MVWSD had to lay off teachers last year and increased class sizes then. Los Altos delayed it a year.

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Posted by Bubble_Head
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2011 at 10:43 am

Maybe the owner of this mansion in Los Altos Hills can donate? [Web Link]

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Posted by John the Man
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Haley may or may not have his numbers correct. But you can make book on this: other than salary and benefits for all district employees, there isn't a lot to cut. If LASD is typical, around 90% of their budget is for salary and benes.

That isn't a value judgment on what those teachers are being paid, I'm not going to sit here and say they are or are not overpaid. What I am saying is that if you sit and look at expenditures, you probably cannot help but lay off some employees since there just isn't anything else to cut.

If the employees themselves vote to cut their own salaries and/or benes, that would mitigate any layoffs. But if they choose not to, then that is that: the least senior employees will have to go.

All that isn't a value judgment, it is the simple truth of the matter.

And it is sad.

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Posted by MV Mama
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm

My child's teacher (in MVWSD) got a pink slip. At least some "temporary" (nontenured) teachers received them.

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Posted by DCS
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 27, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Large companies like GE pay NO TAXES, and we are losing teachers:

Web Link

It's just really sad....

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a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 31, 2011 at 4:36 pm

The teachers are unhappy because they are not being paid what they feel they deserve. They feel their 5 to 6 hour work day is just to long. They think it's unfair if they don't get every holiday on the calendar off with pay. They think it's unfair they get the summer off every year. How many hours is the teacher required to spend in the classroom per day. They don't want to contribute more or restructure their retirement plan so it's more in line with private industry.
Here's a few idea's that might be just a bit out of the box but would solve some of the schools problems.
1. Let's run the schools all year instead of the 6 or 7 months.
2. Let's do away with the teachers union. If they didn't have dues they could invest that in an IRA or a 401K as well as have a greater take home pay.
3. Let's encourage charter schools. (Competition is a good thing)
4. Let's review departments, positions and services on a "Must Have" and a "Nice To Have Basis" across the board.
Nobody wants to bite the bullet and say we just don't have the money to support all of this bureaucracy anymore. .......................Just Think About It"................

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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