44 MCSD educators receive layoff notices

MERCED, Calif.

If the teachers who received pink slips do lose their jobs, it will mean increased class sizes and fewer student services. But even if they end up keeping their jobs, some say the instability will lead many to pursue different careers.

Yearly pink slips have become a painful reality for teachers across the state, including the Merced City School District.

"It's been a very difficult time for our teachers the last 4 years," said Dora Crane, the Merced City Teachers Assoc. President. "And every year the cuts get deeper and deeper and closer to the classroom."

Dora Crane is a middle school teacher and the president of the Merced City Teachers Association. She says the district has lost nearly 100 full-time teachers over the past four years. And many young educators who have kept their jobs are waiting to buy homes and even have children because their futures are so uncertain. Now she and others are worried that instability could cause a teacher shortage.

Paul Chambers said, "Those that have decided to become teachers have found themselves over the last 5 years in almost an endless cycle of layoffs -- getting pink slipped, getting pink slipped because of California's budget problem, and so they find a different career."

Chambers believes that reality has also led a growing number of college students down a different career path. "We have fewer and fewer young people wanting to become teachers."

Chambers and Crane say a long term solution must come at the state level. For the short-term they want the school district use reserve funds to keep teachers employed and prevent pushing class sizes to the maximum.

But Associate Superintendent Greg Spicer says there's not as much reserve money as it may appear. "We had to go out for a $10 million dollar short term loan to make it from month to month this year, so pushing more money out of reserves when they're just there on paper doesn't mean you can pay that bill when it comes this month."

Final layoff notices must go out by May 14th. But officials say the cuts will not be necessary if Governor Brown's tax imitative is approved in November.

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