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19 La Canada Teachers Could Lose Jobs in Wake of Tax Defeat

March 14, 1985|THERESA WALKER | Times Staff Writer

The La Canada Unified School District moved Tuesday to notify 19 teachers that they could lose their jobs next year in the wake of last week's defeat of a property tax that would have raised money for schools.

The move could mean elimination of the district's elementary-school music program and reductions in the number of English and mathematics classes in higher grades.

The five-member school board unanimously approved the action at a special meeting called after voters on March 5 rejected Measure A, which would have added an annual $150 to most property tax bills and raised $1 million a year for the school district.

Donald Ziehl, district superintendent, said declining enrollment would have caused some layoffs even if Measure A had passed.

Ziehl said he could not give an exact figure of how many teaching positions would have been lost because of enrollment drops, but he indicated that the election loss was a much more significant factor.

The superintendent said current district enrollment of about 3,200 students is expected to drop by 200 next year, with most of the loss in high school.

The property tax, which would have lasted five years, received approval of 56.8% of the voters but required a two-thirds majority to pass. Without it, the district is projecting a $600,000 shortfall for next year. The proposed layoffs and instructional reductions would save the district an estimated $500,000.

The 19 teachers must receive official notice from the district by Friday, the statewide deadline for letting certificated employees--teachers, school counselors and librarians--know that their jobs may not exist next year. The district employs 168 teachers.

Board members, however, noted that the proposed layoffs could change, depending on the amount of funding the district receives from the state for next year.

That figure will not be known until July. Officials say they are not counting on any increase because state monies have steadily decreased as enrollment in the district continues to decline.

Irene Mendon, school board president, said the board regretted having to notify the teachers that they may not have jobs.

"This is an unpleasant task for us to perform and an unpleasant notice for those who will receive it," Mendon said.

The layoffs include full- and part-time teachers. Ten are temporary employees who were hired to fill in for teachers who have taken leaves of absence, Ziehl said.

Three others who will receive notices have tenure with the district, dating to 1974 in at least one case, Ziehl said. The remaining teachers have worked for the district for two or three years.

Included in the proposed layoffs is the elimination of the district's only elementary-school music teacher, which would, in effect, end the district's elementary-school music program.

Some of the teachers will be entitled to an administrative hearing before final action, Ziehl said.

The hearings, held at the request of the teachers, probably will take place toward the end of spring, Ziehl said.

Jerry Klocek, president of the La Canada Teacher's Assn., told the board that morale among teachers has been low since the defeat of the parcel tax.

Klocek said, however, that the teachers are willing to work with the district in solving the budget problems. "We have ideas about where cuts can be made," Klocek said, without elaborating.

The board proposed reductions in educational services in grades 7 through 12.

Those plans include elimination of 14 periods of English classes and three periods each in the areas of mathematics, foreign language and social science.

More Cuts Proposed

Cuts also are proposed in five other areas of instruction and in school counseling and administrative services.

In addition, school counselors, assistant principals and administrators may be asked to teach classes to take up the slack in the number of instructors.

Ziehl said in an interview that the district is planning to reduce the number of certified employees, which includes secretaries, clerks and maintenance workers, by laying off four library clerks.

The district has until 45 days before the school year begins to notify those employees that they won't have jobs.

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