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School Crunch Trustees Consider Teacher Layoffs
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Faced with a $1.5 million or five percent cut in the budget to meet declining state funding, Riverbank Unified School District is considering laying off almost a dozen teachers.

At their March 4 meeting, trustees decided to send advance notices of their intent to cut one halftime elementary and eight fulltime teaching positions, one special teaching post at Cardozo Middle School and one English teaching and one physical education post at Riverbank High.

The vote was 3-2 with trustee Egidio "Jeep" Oliveira and Pamela Floyd voting in opposition.

By law teachers must be notified by March 15 of their impending dismissal or retained throughout the next school year, said Director of Personnel Services Barbara Cortese, but the advance notices can be withdrawn at a later date if more funds become available.

Trustee John Mitchell commented at the meeting the district was in a similar predicament six or seven years ago when the district planned for 15 layoffs but in the end only had to let one person go.

"We're having talks at all the schools this week. We will meet individually with the people affected. We don't want to cause panic," Cortese said, adding, "we hope to avoid layoffs by attrition, by retirements and resignations."

Retirements will affect the district's calculations and many have come in this spring, especially with the district's offer of a health retirement bonus or golden handshake. But the bonus is contingent upon the total retirement producing a net decrease in district costs and this cannot be calculated until all are filed, according to Cortese.

Trustee Oliveira asked why the proposed layoffs cover only teachers.

"We are anticipating some classified layoffs later. But we are not so constrained by time there. They get a 45-day notice," said Cortese.

And administrators? Oliveira asked.

"There are no plans for layoffs on the administrative side at this time," Cortese said.