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Monday, February 27, 2012

School Board Votes To Lay Off Teachers

Board Makes First Move Towards
Teacher Layoffs

Tonight the Emery School Board voted to start a State mandated process to lay off teachers at Emery High School.  The unanimous vote to fire at least six teacher positions came after the Board heard impassioned pleas against the action from several parents.  The action initiated tonight will culminate in a March 12th finalization vote by the Board and the actual layoffs would happen in June according to School Superintendent Debbra Lindo.
Board members inveighed against the negative fiscal effects of the cessation of a rental agreement with the Piedmont Unified School District for their use of Emery's middle school facilities, a major source of cash for Emery over the last couple of years.

The School District duly and legally noticed the agenda for tonight's meeting but some parents cried foul for the lack of notification for such an important issue.  Indeed, the notification seemed to have been not enough for any of the parents in attendance; they railed against the lack of transparency and candor from the Board regarding the layoffs.

Board member Josh Simon, jarred by the rancor from the crowd tried to mollify the parents, "We're starting a conversation" he intoned.  Board President Cheryl Webb highlighted that some of the layoffs are being done in response to "programmatic changes" prompted by the impending start-up of the Center of Community Life building project.

It's Not That Bad, It's Only A 'PKS Reduction'
The crowd, while larger than a typical School Board meeting, would likely have been larger still if parents knew ahead of time, the meaning of "Administrative PKS Reductions" listed in the official agenda made public for the meeting.  To the uninitiated, "PKS Reductions" means 'Particular Kinds of Staff' Reductions; a euphemism for teacher layoffs.
The PKS gobbledygook may serve as a diversion from the job at hand tonight but it was noted at the meeting the District had satisfied the minimum legal posting requirements for a public meeting.


  1. an audit of the tax revenue from measure a is in order.

    measure a states: (c) the revenue raised by the special tax shall not be used for general educational purposes but shall be used solely for the specific educational purposes set forth in this measure. each year the governing board of the district shall determine which specific educational purposes shall be funded and the amount of such funding." one sentence seems to negate the other.

    if the purpose of measure a is "(i) to strengthen and improve academic curriculum and education programs in the following essential areas: mathematics, science, literacy, music visual and performing arts" and "(ii) to strengthen and improve programs and services in the following areas which contribute to student academic success: school libraries, wellness initiative, counseling, tutoring and mentoring, school site technology support, english language development" and "(iii) to retain and recruit quality teachers and staff," what did the governing board spend the revenues on?

    surely the school board or "governing" board was aware that the arrangement with piedmont
    school was only for two or three years. why didn't they plan accordingly?

    measure a was approved by the voters in 2003 on the basis of $.10 per sq. ft. in 2007 it was extended to july 1, 2019 at a higher rate of $.15 per sq. ft. of improved property per year.

    this ballot measure must have been written by the same firm who wrote the ballot measure for measure j.

  2. Thank you for your posts Mr. Donahue. I'm a teacher in Emery and I get all of my information from your blog. Sadly, communication has never been Emery's strength. It's clear that once again we have a superintendent who has her own personal agenda and won't communicate it with anyone. We also have a board that continues to listen to whatever anyone of "authority" tells them without question. She made it clear that she is not afraid to shut down schools. She told us that she loves charter schools. She has the right and responsibility to improve Emery. She doesn't have the right to lie to teachers, parents, and students about her vision. If she's confident in it, she shouldn't be afraid to tell us. This isn't about the economy, stupid... (finances are not the issue here). It's about transparency.

  3. How can the School District seek authorization to spend "$200,000 for consulting contractors to assist in a 'change of culture' to implement programs associated with the Center of Community Life", as you recently wrote about in a Tattler article, when they are sneaking around getting ready to lay off teachers with no prior discussion with the teachers themselves or the union?

    Plus, as Shirley points out, what happened to the extra revenues the good citizens of E'ville voted to tax themselves, to support the school?

    I have to think that enrollment is down at Emeryville schools, how else do we explain the budget shortfall next year, unless parents are enrolling students elsewhere - and since a large complement of our students come from Oakland, it is truly sad to think they would rather find another school in Oakland than come to Emeryville - probably an Oakland charter school, LOL.