Pink slips may be nixed

Furloughs could soothe budget pains, but would not fix problem, official says.

May 19, 2010|By Max Zimbert

WEST BURBANK — A tentative agreement between the Burbank Unified School District and its teachers union will rescind all 67 teacher pink slips sent out earlier this year in exchange for six unpaid work furlough days for the 2010-11 school year, officials said.

The furlough days will fall on three school days and three noninstructional days, and the agreement creates breathing room as district officials continue to address a structural deficit that leads to a projected bankruptcy by July 2012, said Gabe Soumakian, assistant superintendent for human resources.

“It’s basically putting off the current problems to future years,” he said. “This will not solve our budget dilemma. It will help address part of it.”


The agreement still needs to be ratified by the Burbank Teachers Assn. membership later this week, President Jerry Mullady said. Results are expected May 25.

“It’s the best deal we could get,” he said. “It will test the people who said they’re willing to take furloughs days to bring people back.”

Soumakian said he wouldn’t know how much the tentative agreement saves the district until June, when the updated budget is finalized.

“As the old saying goes, we’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. “We still have lots of work to do and lots of projections and analysis to look at.”

For weeks, the union had been unwilling to negotiate with the district before Oct. 1, partially because Burbank Unified administrators would not guarantee teachers would be brought back.

That all the teacher pink slips will be rescinded was a win for the union, Mullady said.

“I really did not expect that many teachers would possibly return,” he said.

A provision in the agreement should also restructure the most costly health-care package, which generates savings by lowering overall costs, officials said. Starting in 2011, district officials will begin looking for alternatives to the most expensive health-care plan.

“In other words, we may be looking at other health care altogether, but right now, based on our current health plans, we may eliminate the highest PPO plan,” Soumakian said.

Classes will also increase on average by a half-student, he said.

“It’s important to resolve these issues quickly and be able to rehire teachers so our principals and staff will know how to plan accordingly for next year’s master schedule and classes,” Soumakian said. “I think we agreed, we needed to come up with a resolution quickly.”

Get in touch MAX ZIMBERT covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3215 or by e-mail at

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