Voting to cut 13 teaching positions, two and a half instructional teaching coaches, six custodians and various other jobs had Walnut Creek School District board members sighing Monday night.
The reductions are being made in response to the governor's proposed $4.5 billion cut to statewide education spending next year. Walnut Creek is slicing about $1.5 million from next school year's budget.
"Wow, we need a moment of silence after that," Barbara Pennington, board president, said just after the unanimous vote to eliminate jobs at the board's meeting Monday.
The district split the cuts into three tiers, and many of the teacher cuts, which would mean increasing some class sizes, are in the third tier -- which the board hopes not to reach.
"This is just really painful," said Superintendent Patty Wool. "No one wishes the district to do any of this. There is no bright side . . . these cuts do nothing but hurt children's education."
Paula Shaw, Murwood Elementary teacher, argued for instructional coaches -- teachers who help other teachers as part of staff development -- to be spared.
"They make me do better," Shaw said. "My teaching muscles wouldn't be as strong without them."
The board agreed.
It was proposed to cut all five instructional coaches, but board members felt staff development for teachers was too important and decided to cut half.
"The idea of teachers teaching teachers is something we don't want to give up," said Dan Walden, board member.
The district will not know the exact amount of money it must cut until May, when the state budget is released. But by March 15 Walnut Creek will send notices to all employees who may be laid off.
The district currently has 185 teachers. Thirteen will receive notices of possible job loss. Three of the teachers are probationary and 10 are temporary teachers; no permanent or tenured teachers will be cut, Wool said.
Other proposed cuts include the loss of five paraprofessionals, at least one counselor from Walnut Creek Intermediate and reducing library hours at all five of the elementary school sites. The board also decided not to fill the soon to be vacated director of curriculum position. Some of the cuts include workers losing hours.
Pat Chase, a classified employee at Walnut Heights School, said she realizes times are difficult, but a lot of the cuts affected classified employees, such as two office clerks, 12 aides, paraprofessionals and custodians.
"We have been through this before and came through it -- it is not a pleasant thing," Chase said. "I am more than a little shaken up that a great number of classified people were targeted."
Mary Vanderpan, PTA president for Buena Vista school, said the board should think about fairness when it makes its cuts. Because Buena Vista has more students, things such as cutting library hours, has more of an affect.
"Leave room in your budget," she told the board. "See the affect when you make a budget cut, you think it will be equal per school but it won't."
Walden said that equity would be considered when it came to implementing the cuts.
Wool said that this is the second time in her 36 years as an educator that she has seen cuts this deep.
"And we will probably have to cut another $1.4 million next year . . . it will then have to go into the classroom," she said.
Reach Elisabeth Nardi at 952-2617 or firstname.lastname@example.org.