Denair Unified trustees set to vote on layoffs

naustin@modbee.comJune 4, 2013 

    alternate textNan Austin
    Title: Education reporter
    Coverage areas: K-12 education, Yosemite Community College District
    Bio: Nan Austin has been a copy editor and reporter at The Modesto Bee for 24 years. She has an economics degree from CSU Stanislaus and previously worked at the Merced Sun-Star and Turlock Journal.
    Recent stories written by Nan
    On Twitter: @nanaustin

— At a special meeting tonight, Denair Unified trustees will vote on extensive layoffs of support staff and hiring a management team to fill key posts through December.

Also up for board approval is a resolution for the election in November of two regular board members, the seats of Robert Hodges and Louisa Allen, and the short-term seat filled midterm by Julian Wren.

The agenda notes resignations of the district's payroll and accounting supervisor, Lorie Groll, as well as three teachers. Denair's superintendent, Ed Parraz, resigned and is on paid leave until August. Deputy Superintendent of Business Services Judy Sylvester is retiring, leaving this month.

The small district is deficit spending, scraping the bottom of its reserves, and remains at risk of state takeover unless it can complete major cuts to ongoing costs by June 30. Denair, with a yearly budget of less than $10 million, is the smallest of eight districts statewide in such dire financial straits.

Interim Superintendent Walt Hanline proposes that the board appoint outside fiscal expert Terri Ryland's firm to provide business services for 2013-14, at a rate of $110 to $130 an hour.

The board will vote on hiring an interim deputy superintendent for instruction, Mary Jones, who is retiring from a similar position at Ceres Unified. Hanline worked with Jones when he was Ceres superintendent.

Under the proposal, Jones would work 67 days at $550 a day, alternating days with Hanline, who is paid $600 a day, through December. The agenda item calls the fiscal impact insignificant because the two essentially would split a full-time superintendent's salary, although they would have separate duties.

Support staff jobs being considered for layoffs are five full-time positions, including a library tech and an attendance secretary, and part-time hours of 13 employees, mostly aides.

California School Employees Association negotiator Kyle Harvey said the layoffs are projected to save the district $304,000. "The district would not tell us in advance what positions were being planned to lay off, only the amount of savings they needed to turn the district finances around," he said.

An earlier layoff schedule cut fewer hours from many of the same employees. That list saved about $40,000 less and was rescinded last month.

Denair also needs to settle with its teachers. Denair Unified Teachers Association President Barry Cole said the district's notice of impasse was just rejected by the Public Employment Relations Board.

The teachers association has filed a charge of unfair labor practice with the state, alleging that the district "has failed and refused to bargain in good faith." The complaint says the district proposes an 11 percent salary cut plus changes in 19 other contract sections and asserts that the district did not give proper public notice of its proposals.

On Tuesday, board members convened another special meeting for public comment, a closed-door update on negotiations and a study session on planning and setting priorities.

Another study session on the same topic will be held after tonight's meeting.

The Denair Unified School District board will meet at 7:30 tonight in the district boardroom, 3460 Lester Road, Denair. Find exhibits and agenda at

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or (209) 578-2339, on Twitter, @NanAustin,

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