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Pink slips again for teachers?

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Preliminary pink slips may be on the horizon for Rocklin teachers. Whether or not those preliminary notices turn into actual layoffs is something that may be left up to the voters. Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a tax extension that could possibly be on a June ballot. If the taxes are extended, education would be flat funded for 2011-12. If the taxes are not extended, that means more cuts to education. Schools across the county are expected to plan for the worst and Rocklin is no exception. Rocklin Unified School District board members were looking for suggestions on how to proceed with Brown’s budget proposal, but Barbara Patterson, associate superintendent of business services, said board members need to plan for both best- and worst-case scenarios. “We should have lots of plans based on lots of scenarios,” Patterson said. “Hope is not a sound financial strategy. We can’t take a wait and see approach to that risk.” Patterson suggested that board members go through the process of issuing March 15 layoff notices. “If all goes well, you can rescind those,” she told the board. The thought of issuing pink slips to Rocklin teachers for the third year in a row was frustrating for board members. “I don’t want to go through three years of stress for employees,” Trustee Todd Lowell said. But Lowell said the board is driven by the March 15 deadline — legally, districts must issue pink slips to teachers and certified staff on or before March 15 every year. Trustee Wendy Lang suggested that conversations start now with employee groups to see if an agreement can be reached, contingent on election results. “I think it would be very beneficial to start those conversations now,” Lang said. Superintendent Kevin Brown said a meeting with Rocklin Teachers Professional Association was already in the works. In the meantime, board members will begin discussing ways they can cut back. “In the best scenario, we have enough reserves … we could get through next year without any additional cuts,” Kevin Brown said. “If the tax extension doesn’t pan out, we’re looking at a minimum $3.5 million reduction. It could be worse.” Patterson was also able to offer some positive news, based on the proposed state budget. “The good news is that he’s (Gov. Jerry Brown) not proposing any mid-year cuts,” she said. “If all goes well, we will not see any of that taken away from us.”