Teacher layoffs averted

Sighs of relief, anybody?

A higher-than-expected number of retiring teachers means the Chico Unified School District won’t have to act on layoff warning notices it sent permanent teachers last month. Many teachers classified as “temporary,” however, will not return.

Deputy Superintendent Jim Sands said that with a few more teachers than expected (12) announcing they won’t be back next year, enough money would be saved to keep on all 55 of the teachers who had received the notices. “We decided that we can reduce the staff at this point with the number of retirements that we’ve received, and the number of resignations that we’ve had and the number of temporary teachers we’ve released,” he said.

Sands said that the district had planned as if—worst-case scenario—no teachers at all were retiring. It’s unusual that 10 teachers gave notice this early in the year. He heard that when these teachers learned their peers’ jobs were in the balance, “they sent their letters in earlier than they would have.”

Dan Sours, president of the Chico Unified Teachers Association, said, “I think that everything fell right for [the district].”

Sours said some teachers have been “very worried” during the past month, while others expected it would all work out in the end. The district had predicted as many as 25 of the teachers who received the notices would be laid off.

Ann Sisco, president of the CUSD Board of Trustees, said that while the district had to notify the teachers by mid-March they could be part of a “reduction in force,” officials hoped all along that that would not be the case.

“Things change,” Sisco said, happily. “As it happens, we have enough spots to keep those teachers and we’re just delighted.”

She said that class sizes at the high schools won’t be as large now as students and others feared, but in the case of those with fewer than 15 or so students, “We still need to do something about those tiny classes because they’re just not efficient.”

General fund money the state took back, plus a $1 million addition to teachers’ salary package, has put the CUSD nearly $1.8 million in the red, and several budget cuts have already been made.