More than 50 teachers, most clad in black, swarmed the Tracy Unified School District’s board of trustees meeting Tuesday night.
Teachers showed up to address a mounting list of layoffs and to show support for union leadership, which addressed the board in what turned into a heated exchange.
The board at the meeting approved unanimously a list of 150 full-time jobs it could cut before next school year. Trustee Tom Hawkins was absent.
On March 15, the district will deliver “pink slips” to the 150 teachers, counselors and administrators, notifying them they might be laid off.
The list includes 75 elementary school teachers and layoffs that would decimate the Tracy Adult School and eliminate extra physical education and music classes for kindergarteners through eighth graders.
District officials must decide before March 30 how to slash at least $16 million from a three-year budget, starting this June and ending in 2013. Tracy Unified, like most districts in California, has to make up for declining revenue from the state.
Those cuts could be made even worse, because the state can hold for months the money it owes schools, said Casey Goodall, superintendent of business services.
Before the meeting, Superintendent Jim Franco said the imminent cuts are “painful but necessary,” and that in time, the district hopes to reverse its “devastating decisions.”
Steve Sievers, president of the teachers union, told the board the union isn’t ready to accept pay cuts unless the district promises it will try to curb layoffs.
Sievers, a West High School teacher who practices law in Stockton, said the district should make as many cuts at its central office as possible before laying off teachers and increasing class sizes.
“We don’t feel there’s a good-faith effort on the part of the district,” he said.
About 18 administration employees, from counselors to directors of programs, could be laid off in two years, Goodall has said.
Trustee Gregg Crandall threw up his arms and raised his voice, frustrated when Sievers said the board had never recognized that teachers two years ago sacrificed nine paydays over three years.
Crandall countered that 23 members of the administration had agreed to 10 furlough days over two years.
Sievers said the union is willing to negotiate with the district to save money, and jobs.
“We want you to know we will work with you, but if we’re going to suffer, let’s suffer equally,” he said, to applause from the crowd of teachers.
• Contact Tracy Press reporter Cassie Tomlin at 830-4225 or email@example.com.