Pixley Unified Making Big Cuts

March 16, 2009 10:21:21 PM PDT
A South Valley school district is making big cuts. More than one-third of the full-time teachers at Pixley Unified School District were laid off last week. Officials say school districts in small, rural areas may see fewer cuts than larger districts but they can make the biggest impact.Classes resumed as normal on Monday, just days after nearly half of the Pixley Unified School District's staff was laid off. The California Teachers Association confirms 15 full-time teachers, three part-time teachers, one counselor, one special education administrator, two program administrators and one music teacher were laid off. There is only one music teacher at the elementary school and according to the California Teachers Association, that means the music program will be cut.

Pixley Unified School District officials would not talk on camera but did confirm the layoffs. Officials at the Tulare County Office of Education, who represent more than 30 other rural school districts say sometimes small schools can be hit the hardest by budget cuts because they're already dealing with a decline in enrollment.

John Caudle, Tulare County Office of Education, says "It's just because a lot of your rural areas are declining in population. People are moving out to the bigger cities."

Caudle says some of the small districts Tulare County represents have only 25 students and employees have to wear many hats.

Caudle, says "The responsibilities also go along with teaching and being an administrator and being bookkeeper and sometimes bus driver and the person who works in the cafeteria." Which means smaller school districts may have a harder time prioritizing where to cut. Caudle says, "That could be as much as a bus run in the afternoon to cut back the bus services. They do one in the morning and one in the afternoon rather than two in the afternoon."

Laid off teachers at Pixley Unified tell Action News that they're upset about the layoffs. They feel it will lead to larger class sizes and a weaker academic program.

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