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67 teacher positions to be cut

May 12, 2010|By Max Zimbert

WEST BURBANK — Sixty-seven teachers will be notified that they are months away from being laid off after the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education unanimously approved a revised seniority list Tuesday.

Layoffs are determined by seniority. District officials said they are trying to minimize the impact of layoffs by matching teachers’ credentials with certain job vacancies and moving them to those positions.

In March, the Board of Education voted to shed nearly 89 full-time positions, but ultimately, 79 teachers received pink slips.

School districts can begin rehiring teachers from the updated seniority list any time and into next school year. But complicating Burbank Unified’s ability to rescind teacher pink slips is the Burbank Teachers Assn., which has delayed negotiations that could minimize layoffs, said Gabe Soumakian, assistant superintendent for human resources.


“What we would like to see Burbank Teachers Assn. come and do is have a conversation with something that’s in writing that we can see and be able to sign off on,” he said. “We tried to meet earlier to mitigate some of these positions, [and] we are more than happy to sit down and negotiate the effects of layoffs.”

But union President Jerry Mullady said any formal negotiations hinge on a guarantee that teacher concessions will bring back jobs.

“It’s always been, you tell us how many teachers are coming back,” he said. “We’ve gotten ‘kind of’ numbers . . .  it’s all vague. I feel this is a bullying tactic by the district still.”

School districts are required to maintain balanced budgets every year for three consecutive years, but Burbank Unified officials project bankruptcy by 2011-12, with a $21-billion deficit in the next three years.

District officials have made repeated overtures to the teachers union to begin negotiations. They petitioned state regulators last month that bargaining had reached an impasse, even though negotiations had not formally begun.

The current contract states negotiations for a successor agreement must begin before Oct. 1, and Mullady said the union is not prepared to offer $3 million in concessions.

“It’s our three-year contract so, it’s a lot more than one or two items [we want to negotiate],” he said. “I’m afraid if we open negotiations, they’ll throw an impasse and [impose] whatever they want.”

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