Pink slips rescinded for classroom teachers

The remaining preliminary pink slips given out to 22 classroom teachers on March were all rescinded at the Del Mar Union School District’s May 5 special meeting.

Of the 22 classroom teachers given preliminary layoff notices, 12 were still in danger of losing their jobs. The Board of Trustees’ unanimous vote to rescind all pink slips for classroom teachers was met with cheers.

Thirteen Extended Studies Curriculum teachers were also spared due to the fundraising efforts of the Del Mar Education Foundation.

Trustee Katherine White made the motion to save the 12 teachers despite the fact that the district does not yet know final enrollment and staffing needs. There was a proposal to increase class sizes, which threatened 12 teaching positions. Instead, in 2010-11 class sizes will be reduced to 20-to-1 in lower grades and 27-to-1 in upper grades. White said based on her quick, “back of the sheet” calculations, “it seems to me we’re going to need these people.”

During the public comment period David Skinner, a Carmel Del Mar teacher and Del Mar California Teachers Association president who was attending his first meeting since beating throat and neck cancer, asked the board to rescind the pink slips.

Skinner said even though they didn’t know all the numbers yet, the teachers should be kept on. He said the board took risks earlier in the evening by removing the cost-saving measure of co-locating the district office at a school site and by hiring James Peabody as their new superintendent after just a month as the interim superintendent.

“Ideally we’d have all the information and there would be no risks involved,” Skinner said. “I think these people are worth the risk.”

“David had some good points,” Trustee Annette Easton said. “The people are the heart of this district and it’s always been what has distinguished us from the rest.”

Trustee Doug Perkins said while he was concerned about not knowing the final numbers, his gut said that bringing back all the teachers was doable.

“We have been through so many ups and downs, well so many downs ... David’s comments really struck home,” Trustee Comischell Rodriguez said. “We’re a family and when you go through hard times, you gotta huddle back. ... There will be challenges but I’d like to cut in other areas.”

During public comment, the board also heard the voices of some of the teachers they would lose if the pink slips went through.

Sage Canyon fourth-grade teacher Sarah Raskin said she could not believe that she would be going from this year’s Sage teacher of the year to unemployed.

“I didn’t enter this profession for money or fame but to make a difference in the life of children,” said Raskin, a teacher with 10 years of experience, three in Del Mar. “I have poured my heart and soul into teaching my students.”

Lauren Markarian, second-grade teacher at Ashley Falls, gave the board a look inside the last few days — her thinking about her students as she walked her dog in the morning, spending her own money to buy art supplies, getting to school a half an hour early to prep for STAR testing and holding back tears in front of her classroom after receiving a pink slip that Monday night.

“I don’t want to leave here, I just love it,” Markarian said.

Both teachers hugged and cheered after the board made the vote to save them.

While all classroom teachers saw their pink slips rescinded, some extended studies curriculum will be cut as all principals have completed their ESC allocation needs.

The Del Mar Education Foundation raised enough money to save 13 extended studies curriculum teachers and when paired with the 19 teachers the district will fund, that brings the total to 32.4 full time equivalents for ESC.

The final ESC cuts include 1.8 FTE of music, 0.5 art, 0.4 from science, 0.2 from physical education and 0.5 Spanish. These cuts are significantly scaled back due to fundraising efforts, considering initial cuts included 6.6 FTE from music, 7.0 from art and 6.0 from PE.