Thursday, May 1, 2008

Feeling Cool and Comfortable?

Community member, Andrew Matlock wrote a great letter to the editor in this week's News Mirror...take a look:

Budget cuts should not affect students

In its latest cost cutting effort, the YCJUSD has decided to raise the thermostats in classrooms throughout the district so that the air conditioning does not come on until the temperature reaches 78 degrees.

Now I don't know when the last time you were in a small classroom with 30-35 students during a heat wave, but it makes for an unbearable situation that is in no way conducive to effective learning.

To make matters worse, state testing, the benchmark by which schools are judged, is scheduled to begin soon and suffice it to say, taking a series of tests in excruciating heat will probably not lead to high scores.

However, the most troubling aspect of this situation arose last week when I attended a school board meeting. Apparently the temperature in the board room is not regulated as district officials lowered the thermostat not once, but twice during the meeting to ensure the temperature remained in the low 70s.

Now while no one will argue the blame for the current budget crisis facing schools throughout the state lies solely with politicians in Sacramento, one has to question the leadership of this district when it continually looks to cut programs and costs closest to the classroom and students instead of those furthest from the classroom.

And I can think of no place further from the classroom, both literally and figuratively, than a district office board room.

It is time for this district to actually make a positive difference in the life of each child instead of just saying it does in a mission statement.

Andrew Matlock

How do you feel? You can send a follow up letter to:

or write The News Mirror at:

Yucaipa News Mirror
35154 Yucaipa Blvd.
Yucaipa, CA 92399

Feel free to post your own comments and observations here.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Teacher Layoffs in Motion

Just the Facts:

At the February 26, 2008 board meeting, the Board authorized a resolution to lay off 17 teachers. They have eliminated the Agriculture position at the high school, stating they intend to convert the program to ROP. They are also eliminating one secondary English position, one middle-school Math/Science position, 4 PE positions, and 10 elementary positions.

They plan to use CLAD as a "bumping criteria," meaning teachers who don't have their CLAD will be the first to go (if they're in one of the RIFd positions).

They give three reasons for these layoffs: 1) they state they're overstaffed, 2) the state's budget crisis, and 3) the March 15 requirement for issuing layoff notices.

Personal Notes:

I sat in on 5 meetings on Friday with teachers receiving notices. It was heartbreaking. I could offer only words of support, and promises of representation, while these members are learning that they're losing their jobs.

Things are hopeful for some of them - the District is advertising for reading specialists, and if current members take one or more of those jobs, positions will open back up. In addition, there might be more resignations or retirements coming in, and those would open positions back up, too.

Additional Information:

Many of you have asked about administration and classified, since it appears that the District targeted teachers only. No, they targeted teachers first (while Redlands, San Bernardino, Chino, Murrieta, Los Angeles, and other districts refuse to lay off teachers).

On Friday, they notified four administrators that they are losing their positions - though one of them has already made it clear he's leaving anyway. Two will go back in the classroom (they get to keep a job), and the last one is undecided as to whether she'll go back in the classroom or to another district.

CSEA will suffer, too - unfortunately. They have a 45-day notice requirement, so the District will decide later as to how many/who will be laid off.

We (YCEA and CSEA) have consistently stated that the cuts don't have to be the people who work with and for the kids. The cuts need to be as far away from the classroom as they can be:

1. The artificial turf and the all-weather track, for example.
2. Excess staff at the District Office. (Don't get me started - they've gotten HUGE the past few years)
3. SROs (School Resource Officers - for which we pay 4-5 times the amount we could pay a campus monitor to do the same job. )
4. Do we really need brand-new textbooks in these lean times?
5. Buffet spreads for board members on board meeting nights.

Other ideas? Let us hear from you. In the meantime, I have a dozen or so more layoff meetings to attend.