Fresno Unified School District prepares for major cuts

FRESNO, Calif.

The Fresno Unified School Board, on a split four to three vote agreed with Superintendent Michael Hanson to mail out more than 500 notices to teachers.

Board President Michelle Arax Asadoorian voted against the move. "Last night was really the first opportunity the board got to hear from the public as to their wills, wishes and desires I know a lot of them gave a lot of great suggestions to avoid the layoffs we have to do."

Of the 500 teachers getting pink slips, it's expected about half will actually be laid off but another 70 temporary teachers who aren't counted in those numbers will also be let go, for a total of more than 300 teaching jobs lost.

Fresno Teachers Association President Greg Gadams believes the administration is putting the budget burden on the backs of teachers. "The most galling thing is they weren't even willing to entertain the idea of cutting some downtown administration. When you have hard times it should be a burden shared by all, not one group."

Michelle Asadoorian agrees more cuts need to come from the top, but notes with help from the state unlikely Fresno schools will suffer. "We can debate whether the legislature is going to put something on the ballot and whether the voters are going to pass it but the reality is we're facing $71 million on top of the $85 million we've already cut and there's no way we're not going to impact the classroom and the children sitting in those seats. There's no way getting around it."

If the tax extension gets on the ballot and passes, the district faces a $30 million deficit, which it has already pretty much dealt with. But if it doesn't get on the ballot or does and doesn't win approval, the deficit soars to over $70 million. Which means teachers will go and class sizes will increase especially in the primary grades.

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