Big Bear Lake, CA — Of the Bear Valley Unified School District’s 134 full-time teachers, 26 can expect pink slips come March 15, which is the day that school districts are mandated to notify certificated staff members that their positions could be eliminated in the coming school year. This decision, to eliminate 26.8 teaching positions, was made at last night’s Board of Trustees meeting. Though a painful decision, it was also unanimous and consistent with the school district’s three-year budget reduction plan that was recommended by the Budget Advisory Committee and then approved by the school board in November. It was at that time, back in November, that Beverly Grabe, a former teacher who has since been named Board President, said of their decision, “I think that this is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever been a part of, especially when it affects kids and it affects jobs.”
One of 24 budget cut recommendations was to increase all class sizes in school year 2010/2011. In this current school year, grades kindergarten through third have a student/teacher ratio of 24.94 to 1 and this will be increased to 30 to 1, while fourth through sixth grades will have a 32 to 1 ratio in 2010/2011. This will account for the elimination of 15 full-time classroom teachers at the elementary level, of the 26 who will receive the March 15 notifications. Reductions at the middle school will amount to eight teaching positions and, at the high school level, this amounts to 3.8 positions. The teacher/student ratios at the secondary grades will effectively go from 160 to 180 student contacts per day.
No specific individuals were cited for layoff notices at the March 3 BVUSD meeting; rather, the Board agreed upon the particular services that would be eliminated, after unanimously approving a resolution indicating how tie-breakers would be determined in terms of seniority related to certificated layoffs. Superintendent Dr. Nancy Wright and the Board of Trustees, which includes Beverly Grabe, Ken Turney, Randall Putz, Debra Sarkisian and Paul Zamoyta, posted a letter to BVUSD staff this morning, which reads “that this is one of the hardest things they have had to do and want each of you to know that this was not a choice. It is required because the Governor and the Legislature are not taking education seriously.” The statement goes on to encourage participation and input during the budget review process and closes with, “once again, the Board of Trustees wishes to express their deep regret for the action they were required to take and plead for your understanding.”
In other news related to teaching positions, the Board did accept resignation notices from three certificated staff members, those being BBMS teacher Robert Williams, Baldwin Lane Elementary’s Harry Steimer and Tina Thompson from Big Bear Elementary.