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Newhall class sizes to grow

Decision about layoff notices will be made May 5

Posted: April 30, 2009 10:27 p.m.
Updated: May 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Newhall School District will increase class sizes in primary-grade classrooms as a way to address a nearly $2 million shortfall for the 2009-10 fiscal year, the superintendent said Thursday.

Class sizes in first through third grades will be increased from 20 to 22 students per class across the district, Superintendent Marc Winger said.

Kindergartens at McGrath, Newhall, Old Orchard, Peachland and Wiley Canyon elementary schools also will rise from 20 to 22, he said.

Kindergartens at Meadows, Oak Hills, Pico Canyon, Stevenson Ranch, and Valencia Valley elementary schools will rise to 30 students each, and classes will be staffed with two teachers.

Because of the changes in class size and the retirement incentive program savings from certificated positions, the district will save close to $1 million in general-fund expenses.

The change in class sizes will require 21 fewer teachers, Winger said.

The district plans to provide its retirement incentive program to senior teachers as a way to offset the number of pink slips issued to teachers.

The district's goal is to balance the reduced need for teachers with attrition from retirement and other reasons, and ultimately rescind its remaining classroom teacher layoff notices, Winger said.

The board will discuss that issue at its May 5 meeting.

The district previously rescinded 45 of the 109 layoff notices issued in March. But that doesn't mean that the jobs of other school employees are safe.

District officials will shift categorical funding to the general fund and school sites are still working to reduce state categorical funds by 20 percent. Those changes could lead to layoffs of classified and support staff, Winger said.

However, uncertainty remains because the state's income projections are off by about $8 billion. The failure of May 19 initiatives could lead to more cuts to education, Winger said.

For that reason, district officials have put together a "Plan B" of programs that could be cut.

"I'm planning for the worst-case scenario," Winger said.

That list includes music, physical education, visual arts and deep cuts to support personnel and maintenance crews, Winger said.
Still the federal stimulus money could help the district.

"The thing that will save all that is the stimulus money and that's what we don't know about," Winger said.

The district has already used $1.5 million from the general reserve to address mid-year reductions, Winger said.


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