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Manteca Unified issues layoff notices to 89
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Vern Gebhardt apologized for making a tough decision.

As a Manteca Unified school board member, he and his colleagues unanimously voted for part of the budget-reduction plan to issue 89 layoff notices.

“It was a reluctant vote,” Gebhardt said at Tuesday’s session. “But these notices must be in place by the March 15 deadline (to the state Department of Education).”

The approved layoff list consisted of 20 school psychologist positions, 10 (single subject) English instructors, eight (single subject) Social Science teachers, seven elementary school teachers, seven high school counselors, six (single subject) math teachers, five library media teachers, three (single subject) biology / life science teachers, three school nurse positions, two program coordinators (First Five Preschool), two special day class teachers (severely handicapped), and two (single subject) physical science teachers.

Others on the list included one teaching position each at Day School (multiple subject), independent studies (multiple subject), art (single subject), home economics (single subject), business (single subject), physical education (single subject), adapted physical education specialist, and director for school readiness program.

In addition, the high school continuation program could lose three teachers, including one each in single-subject English, math and science instructors.

Superintendent Jason Messer is hoping not to lose any jobs as the district continues negotiations with the respective unions on possible cross-the-board pay cuts.

“But we also need to keep our options open with March 15 deadline nears,” he said.

Messer indicated that some of the jobs on the layoff list could be paid out of other sources other than the general fund.

Some of the money could come from the stimulus package at the federal level. “It’s still unclear how much we’ll be getting,” he said.

As for the recently approved state budget, Messer noted that Manteca Unified will be getting close to his earlier projections.
“We now know what we have for the next 18 months,” he said. “That’s for this year as well next year.”

About $3.5 million of the $23.5 million needed in reductions could come from certain one-time funds, Messer added.

Meanwhile, those in attendance were concerned about the possible loss of school psychologists, counselors and library media teachers, to name a few.

“Any budget cut will affect the class room,” said Ken Johnson, president of the Manteca Educators Association.

He’s proposing that district officials reconvene the superintendent’s budget reduction committee.

“We need to come to a consensus on these cuts,” said Johnson, who is hoping that both sides can cooperatively work together for a resolution. “The choices may not be easy but the rewards could be great.”