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No choice: some staff face layoffs

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

Some teachers will be laid off in an attempt to pare spending in the Del Norte County Unified School District by $2.4 million

The action is unavoidable, school district officials say, because of a growing state budget deficit and reduced income to schools.

"Consistent with this reality, is the necessity that, for the first time in recent history, some teachers will be receiving a notice of layoff by March 15, 2003," said Superintendent Frank Lynch in a report to the school board, which will be presented Thursday night.

"The district's significant budget crisis, precipitated by the huge California state revenue shortfall, demands the district immediately develop strategies to adjust expenditures," Lynch said.

Lynch said he would not reveal the precise positions being considered for layoffs until the school board has had an opportunity to discuss the recommendations.

"There's nothing I can reveal right now. This information must be shared with the board first," said Lynch, who also mentioned administrative positions are being scrutinized. "A number of positions, but not names, will be revealed Thursday night."

The bottom salary schedule for teachers in the county is $34,000 per year, although this rises in costs to the district when stipends, payroll costs and health and welfare benefits are included. Assistant Superintendent Rodney Jahn said earlier this month that upper-end teachers cost about $75,000 per year with everything included. Lower-end teachers, who are in their first or second year, are closer to $48,000.

Adding to its woes, Lynch said nearly three-quarters of a million dollars promised to the district from the state is being held up.

"They said they are holding the $700,000 until July, but we're supposed to add it to this year's budget," Lynch said. "But there's speculation we might not get that at all. So that might be another $700,000 we're going to be looking at."

Lynch said some cuts are being looked at elsewhere, but because 85 percent of the district's budget is comprised of salaries and benefits, there is no way to avoid contemplating ways to reduce payroll.

School closures and salary reductions are possibilities that have also been discussed by school administrators in recent weeks.

Closing Bess Maxwell School, at an estimated savings of $250,000, was one suggestion presented at a budget meeting.

 


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