State - INACTIVE

Hundreds of Stanislaus County teachers hang on to jobs

Nearly 900 Stanislaus County educators were warned they could be laid off, but it appears only about 185 of them will end up losing their jobs. Dozens of nonteaching employees also will be let go.

School districts scrambled to cut budgets this spring because of shrinking state revenues and declining enrollments.

California law requires that every teacher, counselor and librarian be notified by March if they are at risk of being laid off in July. But most of those who initially were warned since have been told their jobs are safe.

Rather than cut staff, most school districts are finding other ways to save money.

That includes cutting salaries, not filling vacancies, postponing equipment purchases, tapping reserves and eliminating up to five days of education.

Some districts will do all of that, but still must issue pink slips.

About half of all teacher layoffs will be in the budget-strapped Modesto City Schools. That district, which has declining enrollment, had warned 517 educators their jobs were in jeopardy. By last week, that list was down to 92, including 55 elementary school teachers.

Modesto City Schools significantly will boost class sizes next year, requiring every teacher to take responsibility for more students.

Kindergarten through third-grade classes, for example, will have 25 students instead of 20. That means fewer teachers are needed, which is why so many elementary educators are being let go.

"Teachers will be brought back in seniority order once retirements and resignations are received," said Chris Flesuras, Modesto's deputy superintendent.

Far more Modesto teachers would have gotten the boot had their union not agreed to a 4.5 percent pay cut. Managers and the district's nonteaching employees also agreed to pay cuts. While management staff changes are being made, Flesuras said he doesn't know how many administrators will end up being laid off.

"We have more management vacancies than we have employees who will be out of a job," said Flesuras, noting that most of the openings are at the junior and senior high schools. "I am sure the process of filling vacancies and retirement will continue throughout the summer."

Four other Modesto school districts -- Salida, Empire, Stanislaus Union and Sylvan -- account for most of the other teacher layoffs.

Sylvan educators agreed to accept 3.9 percent pay cuts and to teach larger classes, but 24 of the district's teachers still face layoffs.

"We'll bring some of them back into temporary positions," said Sylvan Superintendent John Halverson.

Many see declining enrollment

Employment prospects may not be as good in the Empire and Salida districts, both of which have severely declining enrollments.

Salida, which expects fewer than 2,780 students next year, will lay off 19 teachers. Those who remain will endure 6 percent pay cuts and have about five extra students per class.

Twila Tosh, who is being promoted to superintendent of the Salida Union School District, said enrollment is expected to fall by 120 more students next year. Salida's student population peaked in 2002, and it has been dropping steadily since 2006.

Empire's enrollment also peaked in 2002, and it has plummeted about 25 percent since then. About 13 teachers will be laid off this year, and those remaining will take 2.2 percent pay cuts.

Stanislaus Union will lay off four teachers, and those remaining will take 4.3 percent pay cuts.

Five Waterford teachers face layoffs, but teacher contract negotiations continue there.

Patterson will lay off five teachers. Those remaining will take 2.2 percent pay cuts.

In Keyes, eight teachers are expected to lose their jobs, and the rest will take 2.2 percent pay cuts.

One part-time teacher with the Stanislaus County Office of Education will be laid off, but no pay cuts are planned.

Several of Stanislaus' larger districts do not expect to lay off any teachers, including Ceres, Hart-Ransom, Hughson, Oakdale and Newman-Crows Landing.

Many of the county's small districts -- such as Knights Ferry, Paradise, Valley Home and Roberts Ferry -- also will avoid layoffs.

Stanislaus has 26 school districts, including several with fewer than 10 employees.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or 578-2196.

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