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PE Departments Hardest Hit by JC Layoffs Vote

February 06, 1986|DAVID MORGAN

Thirty-nine full-time physical education instructors are among 142 faculty members who will receive layoff notices following a Wednesday night vote by the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.

About 100 part-time coaches and teachers will also lose their jobs if the proposed layoffs are enacted by the board later this spring.

The board vote, which followed more than four hours of testimony from 31 public speakers, was 6 to 1 in favor of issuing layoff notices to tenured faculty members.

Harold W. Garvin, board vice president, cast the lone opposing vote.

"I have been saying for the last year that I intended to vote for layoffs," Garvin said. "But I have changed my mind.

"The reason I cast the lone no vote . . . is that while we still have financial problems, they are not of the magnitude they were three months ago. Drastic layoffs to save us from bankruptcy are no longer appropriate."

Physical education was the discipline hardest hit by the proposed layoffs. Nearly 29% of the 136 full-time faculty in the discipline will be affected.

Layoffs will be determined by seniority, district spokesman Norm Schneider said.

The layoffs are expected to save the district almost $6 million, although fiscal concerns were apparently not the motive behind the decision.

A study released in August showed that intercollegiate athletics net the district at least $3 million, and possibly as much as $7 million, annually.

A subsequent audit of that report, which has not yet been released, apparently produced more modest figures. The audit still showed athletics to be profitable, however, according to Gary Jovan, a staff assistant at the district office.

"You have obviously chosen not to accept this information," Bob Hertel, a coach and physical education instructor at East Los Angeles College, told board members during a five-minute presentation.

District chancellor Leslie Koltai listed enrollment as one of the top criteria in determining the disciplines to suffer staff cuts.

Figures provided during public testimony by the American Federation of Teachers, the district's teachers union, appeared to contradict the chancellor's remark.

Enrollment in physical education classes is up 9% from the fall and is well above the district average, according to Marty Hittelman, executive secretary for the teachers union.

The district uses weekly student contact hours as its enrollment standard. Physical education courses generate an average of 509 hours a week, Hittelman said. The district average is 410, he said.

Pointing at those numbers, supporters of physical education went on the offensive.

"How can people in your positions impose their personal prejudices in a matter like this?" Hertel asked.

"What you are doing is wrong," said Harold Fox, president of the teachers union. "It will destroy the district."

Dr. Monroe Richman, board president, said the decision to issue layoffs was not an athletic matter.

"It's an educational issue," he said. "We have examined all disciplines, how they inter-relate and which ones we could perhaps sacrifice with the abiding choice of strengthening other disciplines where we expect enrollment to increase."

Board member Lindsay Conner said he favored separating physical education from athletics.

"I support athletic programs and physical education in general," he said. "But I support the concept of a separate department of athletics.

"That way, athletics is not subject to the vicissitudes of physical education enrollment. The two are now interlocked. I think we should move quickly to prohibit one area from pulling down the other area."

The idea received backing from Bob O'Connor, athletic director at Pierce.

"I think it would be a good idea," he said. "We've got to do something."

If nothing is done, Valley-area colleges could lose 20 of their 36 athletic teams when part-time coaches are fired. In addition, several full-time coaches would be affected.

O'Connor wasn't ready to panic after learning of the board vote.

"We've got to hang in there and see what happens," he said. "Some people may come out of the woodwork to coach. I don't know."

The prospect of full-time instructors stepping forward to coach athletic teams in the event of layoffs isn't likely, according to Fox.

An earlier attempt by the board to force physical education instructors to coach teams was thwarted by an arbitrator, Fox said.

"Some of the conditions of coaching as a regular assignment make the coach do considerably more than regular faculty in anoth er department would do," Fox said. "They only get five hours of teaching credit.

"It's extremely demanding under those conditions. They've never worked out a way to make coaching as desirable as it should be for persons who are regular faculty. It takes many, many more hours than they give them for coaching."

The board has until May 15 to decide whether to enact its proposed layoffs.

JC Layoffs: Who Goes

39 of 139 full-time physical education instructors; seniority study to be released later this week will reveal number of teachers per school.

20 part-time coaches in the Valley

In all, 142 of the district's 1,481 full-time instructors

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