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Rocklin Unified to cut more than 50 teachers

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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A total of 76 final reductions of force notices will go out to teachers on or before May 15. The notices represent more than 50 full-time teachers within the district. Almost half of them are at the elementary level, approximately 15 at the high schools and approximately nine at the middle schools. In addition to teacher layoffs, high school athletes may be asked to pay to play. Rocklin Unified School District is considering an athletic contribution option in order to save high school sports. In addition to an added cost for athletes, transportation may be eliminated for most sporting events. The final notices, athletic contribution and elimination of transportation are a few ways the district hopes to make up for its $8 million deficit. Approximately 81 certificated employees within the district received preliminary reduction of force notices in March. Of those, 76 final notices will go out. The district has the option of rescinding notices or rehiring employees if additional salary concessions are approved. The board unanimously approved the final notices at last Wednesday’s meeting. “It makes me sick, but yes,” Trustee Todd Lowell said as the vote was taken. Recent employee concessions were made by two employee groups – Rocklin Administrators Professional Association and the Confidential Employees Association. Rocklin administrators agreed to four furlough days and a two percent salary reduction for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years. Members within the Rocklin Administrators Professional Association include school principals, assistant principals, directors and other positions. The voluntary concession saves the district approximately $165,000 per year, according to district documents. Employee salaries within this group range from approximately $60,000 to more than $100,000 annually. Debra Hawkins, Whitney High principal and president of the Rocklin Administrators Professional Association, said Rocklin Unified is one of the best districts she has worked for. With the salary reductions, Hawkins said she hopes it assists in continuing students’ high test scores and that the district is able to continue to produce strong citizens. “This district is important, it’s very important for the kids,” she said. Confidential employees have agreed to take four furlough days for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, saving the district approximately $20,000 a year. Among the Confidential Employees Association are administrative assistants, an executive assistant and clerk, making between $14 and $26 an hour. Trustees continue to remain hopeful that an agreement can be reached with the Rocklin Professional Teachers Association. Barbara Scott, president of the Rocklin Professional Teachers Association said the group has been regularly meeting with the district. “We have a wonderful, wonderful district and I just don’t want to see it crumbling, crumbling down,” she said. Also discussed at last Wednesday’s board meeting was the idea of an athletic contribution from parents of high school athletes. The proposed athletic contributions would be $125 for the first sport, $100 for a second sport or second sibling, $75 for a third sport or third sibling and $450 for a family plan. Surrounding districts such as Elk Grove, Roseville Joint and Placer Union have or are considering implementing similar “voluntary” athletic contributions. The money will be used to offset the reductions to sports at the high school level. The fee would be waived if a family cannot afford the contribution, Rocklin High Principal Michael Garrison said. The district is also considering the elimination of transportation for sporting events except for larger sports, such as football and track and field. Without provided bus transportation, possible parent carpools or students driving themselves to games are options. Del Oro High School and the Elk Grove School District have implemented similar transportation coverage. The safety aspect of students driving to sporting events was an issue taken into consideration. “I think our parents are used to transporting their kids,” Garrison said. David Bills, the athletic director at Rocklin High, said he estimates 75 percent of student athletes hitch a ride with parents or friends after games, leaving the bus nearly empty going back to the school. Trustees will continue discussing ways to fill in the deficit at the next school board meeting at 7 p.m. May 19 at 2615 Sierra Meadows Drive.