Three of the 19 La Canada Unified School District teachers who had received layoff notices because of declining enrollment and dwindling finances have been rehired in temporary positions.
At a meeting last week, the district's school board voted to retain one secondary and two elementary teachers because of an unexpected retirement, an expected leave of absence and the need for an art instructor at La Canada High School, school board President Irene Mendon said.
In a special election called by the school district in March, voters rejected a property-tax measure that would have raised an estimated $1 million a year for the schools by adding $150 yearly to most property tax bills. Immediately after the measure's defeat, the district voted to send layoff notices to 19 full- and part-time teachers.
The rehiring of three of those 19 may be followed by other reprieves before the board votes on a budget in September, Mendon said. But she stressed that any such hirings would be temporary.
The district had an enrollment of about 3,200 this year but that is expected to drop by about 200, with most of the loss at the district's only high school. Because of declining enrollment, the tiny school district has been losing revenue from the state, the major source of funding for school districts in California since property taxes were slashed with the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978.
Among the 10 permanent teachers who received layoff notices, nine requested a hearing before an administrative law judge to determine whether the district had followed proper procedure in choosing which teachers to dismiss. At a hearing earlier this month, Judge John Willd upheld the dismissals. The nine temporary teachers were not entitled to a hearing.
The three teachers who were rehired last week had been permanent but now are temporary. They are: Zell Greene, a second-grade teacher at Paradise Canyon Elementary School; Susan Ball, first-grade teacher at La Canada Elementary School, and Karen Mealiffe, an art teacher at the high school. Because of their new temporary status, Greene and Ball will lose their tenure unless they are rehired on a permanent basis within 36 months, district officials said. Mealiffe was not tenured.
The district also will retain three of four library aides whom it had earlier considered letting go. The school board decided not to lay off the aides because it wanted to keep open libraries for the two elementary schools and the secondary school, Mendon said. The fourth library aide, who worked at the high school, was not needed because the districtwide librarian can handle duties there, Mendon said.