I came across this article on the Press-Telegram this morning and wanted to share it and get your thoughts on the Long Beach Unified School District budget crisis... Has it affected you personally yet?
LONG BEACH - When teacher Lacey Gilbreath received a pink slip from the Long Beach Unified School District last month, her heart sank.
A teacher at Hill Classical Middle School for more than a decade, Gilbreath thought her job was safe.
"It was a total surprise. I don't know what's going to happen," she said. "I think we're all feeling a little left in the dark."
Hundreds of LBUSD employees gathered in the Wilson High School auditorium Tuesday as part of a weeklong series of layoff hearings. The district has sent out more than 1,100 layoff notices - mostly to teachers - as part $50 million in budget cuts this year.
State law allows teachers to contest preliminary layoff notices at a hearing before an administrative law judge. Teachers will learn by May 13 whether they are actually losing their jobs.
The hearings are part of a complicated layoff process that is based on seniority. Under state law, teachers whose positions are slated for elimination have the right to "bump," or take the job of junior teachers, provided they have the experience and credentials needed to assume the junior teacher's job.
At the hearings, teachers can argue that the LBUSD incorrectly ranked them on the district-prepared seniority list or that another teacher was mistakenly deemed more senior.
Some teachers were experiencing the nerve-racking process for the second year in a row.
Last year the district sent out more than 800 layoff notices but ended up laying off about 100 teachers after receiving additional funding.
This year's number of layoffs is expected to be much worse as the district faces massive cuts in state funding.
"Whatever the number is, it will be unprecedented," said Michael Day, president of the Teachers Association of Long Beach, the district's teachers union.
District officials on Tuesday spent hours reviewing a seniority list with thousands of names.
Some teachers were told they were slated to be "bumped" by a more senior employee, while others were told their positions were being eliminated.
"It's so hard sitting here and hearing all these names being called," said Shelli Santos, a teacher with the district since 1999.
Santos is one of the more than a hundred teachers in the national Head Start program who are in danger of being "bumped" by teachers in the district's Early Childhood Education program.
For some like Jose Ramirez, a fourth-grade teacher at Tincher Preparatory School, the prospect looked grim.
"I was basically told my services will no longer be needed," said Ramirez, who was on a list of teachers slated to receive final layoff notices.
Ramirez, a teacher with the district for 10 years, received a preliminary layoff notice last year but it was later rescinded.
"It's very sad, and it definitely takes away some of your momentum, but then you think about the kids and that's what keeps you going," he said.
If he does lose his job, Ramirez says, he plans to watch his two small daughters during the day and attend school at night to earn additional teaching credentials. His wife, who works full-time in the Human Resources department at Cal State Long Beach, is also concerned about losing her job.
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