Rocklin Unified approves 76 pink slips

District also OKs changes to Early/Late Reading program
By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Rocklin Unified School District trustees have approved pink slips for approximately 76 full-time equivalent certificated employees for the 2010-11 school year to help make up for the district’s $8 million deficit. In addition, trustees also approved a change to the district’s Early/ Late Reading program for kindergarten through third-grade students. On or before March 15, 76.82 full-time equivalent certificated employees will receive preliminary layoff notices. Among them will be four full-time equivalent counselors, six full-time equivalent high school math positions, 35 full-time equivalent self-contained elementary classroom teachers and 10.67 full-time equivalent positions at the middle school level. Final notices in reduction of force for certificated district employees need to be made by May 15. “It is something that is very emotional and very difficult to do, but it’s necessary,” said Bob Lee, assistant superintendent of human resources. “This is sort of the worst-case scenario,” Rocklin Unified Superintendent Kevin Brown said. “We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” A district budget workshop will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 15 at Granite Oaks Middle School, where the public is encouraged to attend and share ideas and feedback. Also discussed at last week’s board meeting was a change to the district’s Early/Late Reading program. Beginning in the 2010-11 school year, school sites that currently administer an early/late schedule will have the option to continue the schedule for kindergarten and first-grade combination classes, while a fullday schedule will be implemented for grades second through sixth. Currently, in grades first through third, some schools operate on two different schedules, where half of the students in the class attend from 8:25 a.m. to 1:55 p.m. and the other half of the students in the class attend from 9:25 a.m. to 2:55 p.m. The divided schedule allows for smaller, more focused groups and greater individual attention, according to teachers. A full-day schedule consists of classtime from 8:25 a.m. to 2:55 p.m., which will allow for 154 more instructional hours in the classroom for first- through third-graders. Despite the extra classroom time, approximately 15 teachers and parents shared views opposed to the implementation of a full-day schedule, while approximately five teachers and parents shared views in support of a full day. Lynne Wheeler, a second-grade teacher at Valley View Elementary, said that small-group instruction is best for practicing reading. “We want to make sure the students are learning everything they need to learn,” she said. Rebecca Burke, a kindergarten/first-grade teacher at Sierra Elementary, said she was concerned if class sizes go up, that the early/late schedule would be more important for students. “We know that quality is the answer, not quantity,” she told trustees. Concerns sparked over lack of evidence showing a benefit or negative results of full-day schedules in regard to test scores, but the decision for a full-day schedule had the support of all Rocklin elementary principals and district office administration, according to Carolyn Nunn-Lum, director of elementary programs for Rocklin Unified. “This change, although a very emotional change for some, is not to diminish the hard work these teachers have done,” Nunn-Lum said. “Our challenges demand creative solutions and those creative and difficult solutions are never easy.” Nunn-Lum said the added class time will allow for reteaching material not fully understood by students, as well as introducing new content.