MODESTO -- Tonight, the Modesto City Schools board will consider tentatively laying off 36 teachers, nurses and others, including most elementary school librarians.
Members also will discuss changes in discipline policies to make safety, not behavior, the benchmark for kicking kids out of school, and ending the requirement that eighth-graders pass the U.S. Constitution test to move on to high school.
The school jobs, noted as full-time equivalents, that could be cut are:
11.5 elementary school library media teachers
14.5 elementary school instructional coaches
1.5 school nurses
2.8 junior high and high school English-learner counselors
0.6 high school auto shop teacher
2.5 high school Regional Occupational Program nursing course specialists
Two high school history teachers
In addition to cutting positions, the resolution says senior employees must be "credentialed and competent" to bump other teachers and sets out criteria in case of a seniority tie. The list gives preference to bilingual teachers; those who are active in student activities; and experienced teachers in math, science, English and special education.
Layoffs to be considered tonight will not be certain until late in the school year. Teachers and other employees who hold teaching certificates must be notified by Friday if they are in danger of losing their jobs.
The report does not estimate potential savings.
A budget update being discussed at the meeting, however, predicts the district will end this and the next two years in the black, but only if it can carve $7.25 million from specific programs in 2013-14 and $3.1 million the next year.
The report notes that teacher salary cuts and furlough days, all negotiated as temporary measures, will disappear July 1. There is no contract in place for 2013-14. Potentially higher revenue from the state's new funding formula has not been adopted and is not included.
Focus on intervention
The changes to school discipline at all grade levels appear to shift the focus from punishment to intervention, particularly for first offenses. They will be discussed tonight but voted on at a later meeting. The agenda report says the switch lines up with new laws and current practice.
The proposed changes lay out increasingly tough strategies, starting with counseling and ending in expulsion. The list includes parent conferences, community service, restitution, conflict resolution and Saturday school.
Modesto City Schools is under state sanctions for unacceptably high numbers of special education student suspensions and expulsions in prior years. Associate Superintendent Ginger Johnson has said she would work to change those numbers for all students.
The board also will revisit the policy of requiring junior high students to pass the Constitution test to graduate. The test still would be given. The change was proposed by junior high principals, the agenda report notes.
Up for a further discussion tonight is a revised policy for books, maps, movies, online videos and other supplementary materials used in classrooms. Movies range from Disney fare to historical dramas with an "R" rating for specific high school classes.
The Modesto City Schools board will meet at 6 p.m. in the staff development center, 425 Locust St. The agenda is posted at http://bit.ly/MCSmeetings.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2339, on Twitter, @NanAustin, www.modbee.com/education.