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OUSD Hands Out 51 Pink Slips

By Daryl Kelley

For a decade, some Ojai teachers have received pink slips in mid-March, notifying them that their services might not be needed in the fall because of declining enrollment. Usually, most of those notices were rescinded.

But this time, the Ojai Unified School District may have no way to keep dozens of threatened teachers in their classrooms, because state and federal cuts, and fewer students, have left it with a nearly $3-million deficit next fall, a huge drop from this year’s budget of  nearly $25 million.
Distraught district trustees voted Tuesday evening to notify 51 part- and full-time educators, including several managers, that they may have no jobs after June. Pink slips went out on Wednesday and Thursday.
That’s fewer than the 76 termination notices sent last year, when few teachers were actually laid off. But this year, officials said, there is little wiggle room in the state budget, and no new federal stimulus money such as the $1.3 million that rolled in this year.
The district could balance its budget by laying off 27 full-time educators, including three managers, but 51 were notified to give the district more flexibility in where and how it makes cuts. State law prevents a teacher from being dismissed unless notice is given by March 15.
This year’s “pink slip list” is especially grim, superintendent Hank Bangser told trustees. And it could reach “a significant distance down the seniority list” of teachers in the district.
Because 85 percent of the district’s budget goes to employee wages and benefits, that’s where trustees must look to cut, Bangser said.
Trustees will also consider soon proportionate reductions in the size of the district’s non-teaching staff, such as aides, secretaries, custodians and bus drivers. Fifteen full-time non-teaching positions need to be eliminated to balance the budget.
“Nobody is feeling there is going to be any relief,” Bangser said. “This is the end” of dodging the budget bullet, he said.
“This is a structural deficit, which means it doesn’t go away.”
That means that Ojai’s public schools will have fewer teachers, fewer class options and more students per class, officials said. There might also be fewer days of school. But just

But this time, the Ojai Unified School District may have no way to keep dozens of threatened teachers in their classrooms, because state and federal cuts, and fewer students, have left it with a nearly $3-million deficit next fall, a huge drop from this year’s budget of  nearly

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