FUSD math problem will end in teacher cuts

FRESNO, Calif.

The Fresno Unified School Board voted unanimously Wednesday night to save of more than a hundred jobs. 257 pink slips had been handed out to teachers back in March.

"Tonight's actions will also reinstate 133 teaching positions. These are folks who actually did receive the pink slip that now they're jobs will be reinstated." said FUSD Deputy Superintendent Ruthy Quinto.

The news was bittersweet for union leaders who say the district could have gone further in saving more jobs.

"The district is not accounting for proper things with our retirement incentive and other grants that they are getting back to them. And they're using a higher number. So looking at that they could put more people back than what they are." said Fresno Teachers Association President Greg Gadams.

Board members also spent the night discussing new ways to save money. Some supported the idea of a two percent reduction in pay across the board to prevent teachers from having to be laid off in the future. The idea also drew support Superintendent Michael Hanson.

"You're right. It is an easier thing to do is just say let's just fix payroll and cut different checks than it is deal with 124 lives and families and the rest of that." said Hanson.

But union leaders say that idea won't fly with its members.

"We know that money is there. Even if Ruthy Quinto and Superintendent Hanson don't want to admit it. You can mathematically see it there easily. The money is there." said Gadams.

The final decision will be finalized next Wednesday. But unless something drastic changes between now and then, the number of people laid off will stay at 124.

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FUSD math problem will end in teacher cuts
By Corin Hoggard

The Fresno Unified School District is saving the jobs of more than 100 teachers who got layoff notices a couple months ago. But about the same number will still lose their jobs as big budget cuts become permanent Wednesday night.

Superintendent Michael Hanson says it's a math problem that occupies every waking hour. But the teachers' union says his math is bad, and they're taking their message straight to people watching TV.

A Fresno Teachers' Association ad takes aim at Fresno Unified administrators for budget cuts targeting teachers. Hanson's budget would reduce 522 teacher positions in the next school year. Many of those cuts will come through retirements, but 257 teachers received layoff notices in march. Only 124 will receive final notices, starting Thursday. Hanson says he and his staff looked everywhere to save jobs.

"We're proud of where we are, but we're not done," he said. "Literally, every hour we're awake we're working on trying to save jobs."

But the teachers' union isn't satisfied. When Hanson first announced the teacher cuts, the school board was expecting a $71 million budget shortfall. That number is now down to $56 million after the state restored some education funding, but the number of teacher positions cut remains the same. And union leaders say consultants are telling them the shortfall is really even smaller.

"They're saying $25 million and Fresno Unified's keeping it twice as much as what anybody, even worst case, would be predicting right now," said FTA president Greg Gadams.

Union leaders say Hanson isn't spreading the budget pain fairly. While more than 10% of the district's teaching positions are disappearing, the superintendent's only cutting 4% of administrators at the central office. But as his defense, Hanson points to his results, even through three years of budget cuts.

"Our public just has to understand when you're down $144 million, it goes to your nearly 10,000 employees in some shape or form," he said. "That's where the money goes and we're trying to keep our programs robust for our kids."

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