TVUSD elementary PE, Arts and Behavior Specialist layoffs loom

Eleven Temecula Valley Unified School District elementary school specialists have only a few more days before their layoff notices officially go into effect, but district officials are hoping to find other positions for them by the end of month before final termination.

With the layoffs looming, teachers, shareholders and families across the school district gathered Tuesday, May 2 at the regular district board meeting to discuss the layoff notices given to various elementary school specialists.

Rallying to protect the positions of the Physical Education, Visual and Performing Arts and Positive Behavior Support specialists being threatened with layoffs, teachers held signs reading “All students matter” and “A person’s a person no matter how small.”

While it has been proposed to reduce the specialized services, the district is not cutting the programs from the schools entirely, they propose a reduction in the frequency for specialists to teach in the classrooms. According to Public Relations Officer Laura Boss, when producing the initial proposal “administration tried to provide to the board a way to maintain consistency in programs without completely decimating them.” Current to the districts; Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) reductions will cut four VAPA and PE teachers from their respective specialists as decided during an April 10 TVUSD Board Workshop.

The amount of meeting time allocated for public commenters was extended to accommodate the large number of requests that came to speak on the layoff issue. Eighteen speakers voiced their concerns regarding cuts to the PE, VAPA and PBIS programs for elementary schools.

Since layoff notices went out in March, the district has until June 13 to finalize their LCAP budget for the 2017-2018 school year and present the budget to the shareholders June 2. The initial particular kind of services (PKS) reduction list of 54.6 services equated the reduction of 21 employee positions, but the district since rescinded 11of those positons leaving the 10 employees on layoff notice. If not rescinded by May 15, their layoff will become official. The final board workshop will be hosted May 30 when the board synthesizes the data collected through the regional CAP meetings, District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) meetings and online surveys, along with feedback given during board meetings.

Board President Sandy Hinkson explained, “And part of that too is that even though there is a proposal to reduce the number of specialists, we aren’t reducing programs. The instruction will still be provided partially by a specialist with the remainder of the subject given from the multi-subject credentialed teacher.” Based on her previous years as a multi-subject credentialed teacher, Hinkson and the board indicated they are optimistic in the capabilities of the teachers to provide quality instruction.

The public commenters before the board, however, emphasized the technical training of the specialists and how they would be lost with less instructional time.

The 200 minutes of physical education mandated by the state currently is filled with half of the instruction provided by specialists and the remaining half by a multi-credentialed teacher. With the proposed cuts, students would have approximately 40-45 minutes a week done with a specialist and the remained by their multi-subject teacher, according to Boss.

In regards to the PBIS counselor, numerous speakers referred to Temecula Luiseno Elementary counselor Ms. Yoder and the effect of her work with students. Arguing for her quintessential role in assisting mental health and anxiety disorders at an early age, the testimony left the board with new considerations in cutting the PBIS program. In the proposed LCAP Actions and Services, the three district PBIS counselors would be laid off, but keep the Friendship Rooms. At the seven elementary schools with the program, the Friendship Room is a safe room controlled by a classified employee as a place for students to go to gather their thoughts in a non-stressful environment. The seven classified instructional assistants, would remain at the schools, however the counselors would be removed as would their individual and group sessions for strategic interventions.

The public comments made that evening will be considered by the board when finalizing their budget and LCAP reductions, however, district officials said they will continue to work to reduce through bumping and filling classroom positions with those currently with a layoff notice. If the employee meets the criteria for a position, they may be offered a new position rather than termination.

Other issues were brought up during the May 2 meeting when TVEA President Jeff Kingsberg questioned Item 15, on the agenda and ELA/ELD (English reading and language) Textbook Adoption, costing $6.9 million. He pointed out a discrepancy in the district’s proposed cost reductions to relieve the budget deficit through suspending or reducing future textbook adoptions. The textbooks have been reviewed for the K-8 schools and still being reviewed in the high schools. The textbook adoptions will be reviewed May 22. With that, Kingsberg suggested financial prudence in making the textbook purchases and suggested a phase-in process. The Board has already set aside money for the purchase of the K-8 textbook purchases, according to PIO Boss.

Until then, the Board remains open for feedback regarding their LCAP Actions and Services. As Hinkson expressed, “I personally will go and visit some schools, sit through some lunch times, and talk to teachers,” before synthesizing the information and listening to the public commenters’ wish for the board to look to where the district will be affected. There are several remaining LCAP Survey and Input Meetings including an Advisory Committee set for Thursday, May 11, at the district office open to the public. Regular TVUSD Board meetings will continue June 13 and 27.

4 Responses to "TVUSD elementary PE, Arts and Behavior Specialist layoffs loom"

  1. Henry   May 12, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    Tvusd does not have a budget crisis, TVUSD has a spending crisis. There is too much tax payer money being used to pay for services and positions that do not benefit students. TVUSD board and directors have failed their students miserably. New leadership is needed. Ritter and his goons need to go, and the excess fat at the District office needs to be radically trimmed!

    Reply
  2. Bob   May 12, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    It is so sad that Sandy Hinkson use to have common sense and actually at one point wanted to make a difference. Ritter has totally schmoozed her over and unfortunately, Sandy has drank the kool-Aid big time and doesn’t even know it. Sandy is such a disappointment! In less than a year, Ritter and his cronies have completely brainwashed her and turned a once fair minded person into Ritter’s number 1 puppet.

    Come one Sandy, do your job dammit!

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  3. Gary T   May 12, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Leadership at Tvusd is so dysfunctional. The truth is that Temecula students, parents, and teachers are great so that makes our district look good. But reality is that only the most corrupt and inept in all temecula get to work in the district office. Mr. rritter and his ignorant directors havent worked with kids in DECADES and it is nothing short of a miracle when one of them is seen inside a classroom. How can educational decisions be made by those that are furthest removed from the classroom? Seriously, what a joke!

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  4. Jose   May 13, 2017 at 11:08 am

    The whole LCAP process is a joke. Most teachers do not even know what it is. I have attended the district meetings they have held for LCAP discussions and the turnout is a joke. Only a handful of parents show up and less than a dozen teachers. The one time they had a decent turnout was when they paid the teachers to attend and told them to bring parents with them. In other words they had set a quota.

    At the last meeting, it seemed like most areas voted that the LCAP was not supporting their regions needs. That may be because there is no local discussions taking place at the school sites nor with the parents, so the data they are collecting is from a limited pool of community members and teachers. The posters they put up are for the most part blank. I would also add that most of the comments are not in favor with the overall plan. They will tell you they have have a lot of data that they are looking at but they never present any of it. It would be nice to be invited to the meeting where they are actually looking at the data so the community can actually see it, read it, and hold it in their hands. The reality is that there is a small select group of Administrators who are making all of the decisions. The School Board then just signs off on whatever the district has presented. They do not question much because it is my guess that they do not spend much time looking it over and asking the tough questions.

    Sandy tries to defend the decision making process because she has signed off on this every year but will not own the fact that that this LCAP is a mess. She knows that Principals have not shared or discussed this information with the teachers and have done a poor job in educating the parents and community, but will never admit it.

    I do appreciate the fact that Sandy at least attends these meetings. I cannot say the same about the other Board members. I just wish she listened to the teachers and community more. They are the ones who actually work with students at school/home and know what programs/actions and services would be best for their sites. Instead, the people who are the furthest away from the classrooms/students are the ones making the decisions…and poor decisions at that.

    Henry is right in saying that this is a self inflicted crisis and how does the Board suggest to resolve the issue? They want teachers to a pay cut via a furlough day to bridge the financial gap all the while the top Administrators will not surrender any of their increases in pay so that our district can supposedly retain and attract these quality employees. If that was the case, why have none of them left the district? They won’t leave because they know that all of the hard work is being done on the ground by the teachers and that our test scores will always be one of the best in the county. This is a credit to the community/parents and teachers, not the Administration of the District. That is where I agree with Bob’s comment about Sandy being a puppet.

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