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July 26, 2011 > New Haven School District update

New Haven School District update

Submitted By Rick La Plante

New Haven District rehires more teachers:
Acting to minimize class-size increases despite continued uncertainty over the state budget, the New Haven Unified School District has begun rehiring some of the teachers whom it had been forced to lay off, Superintendent Kari McVeigh announced on July 21.

Forced to make $6 million in reductions for the 2011-12 school year - on top of nearly $10 million in reductions made over the past three years - the Board of Education this spring authorized increasing the student-to-teacher ratio in kindergarten through third grade to 30-to-1, resulting in the layoff of nearly 70 teachers. The Board also authorized the implementation of furlough days for all employees, reducing the length of the school year for all students.

Class sizes still will increase, but to a lesser degree. Kindergarten, where the student-to-teacher ratio has been 20-to-1, will increase to 25-to-1. First and second grades will remain at 25-to-1. Third grade, staffed in the past at 25-to-1, still will increase to 30-to-1.

The result is that 24 of the teachers who were laid off will be rehired, in addition to 29 teachers who have already been rehired, mostly to fill positions vacated because of attrition (retirements, resignations, etc.).

"This sounds like good news, but it's only because of how bad the news has been for the past several months and because of how deep we had to cut as we planned for 2011-12," Superintendent McVeigh said. "We still have lost about 15 teachers, our kindergarten and third-grade classes are still larger than they were last year, and we still must implement furlough days."

The instructional year has been reduced from 180 days to 175 days and - with the cooperation of the New Haven Teachers Association, the local chapter of the California School Employees Association and the New Haven Administrators Association - all employees will take one additional furlough day.

"It's important for our community to understand that our students will receive five fewer days of instruction this year, and that our teachers, classified employees and administrators all will be sharing in the sacrifice by taking home smaller paychecks, because they will be working a total of six fewer days," Superintendent McVeigh said.

And with the state having adopted a budget that includes mid-year cuts to education if tax revenues fall short of projections, the District could be forced to adopt additional furlough days before the school year ends, Ms. McVeigh warned.

Home-to-school transportation, previously eliminated for high school and elementary students, has been eliminated for middle school students, too, and the District will fund only some - not all - of the stipends paid to coaches and advisers for after-school activities such as athletics, band and color guard, forensics, choir and drama.

The District was able to retain the media specialists who staff school libraries, and there will be part-time assistant principals at the seven elementary schools this year. However, Alvarado and Cesar Chavez middle schools will have 1.5 assistant principals each, instead of two, and James Logan and Conley-Caraballo high schools have lost one administrator each.

The District had hoped to further mitigate cuts with approximately $3 million that would have been raised through a parcel tax that was brought to voters last spring. But Measure B fell just short of passage, receiving 66.44 percent of the vote in an election where a two-thirds majority, 66.67 percent, was needed.

"Given the state's financial situation and the narrow defeat of Measure B, I think we've done the best we can do under the circumstances," Ms. McVeigh said. "But the fact remains that even in a district that has been fiscally responsible - where we've closed under-enrolled schools, eliminated transportation, cut back on other services, and reduced our teaching force by 10 percent and our administrative staff by 20 percent - we simply no longer are receiving the revenues necessary to do what we need to do for our children."

Equity Task Force invites parent participation:
New Haven parents interested in the work of the District's Equity Task Force are invited to "save the date" Friday, August 26, when the Task Force will hold a day-long meeting to review its work so far and to plan for the 2011-2012 school year. Parents interested in joining the Task Force or simply interested in learning more about equity efforts in the New Haven community are invited to attend. The meeting will be facilitated by Enid Lee, a nationally recognized expert in multi-cultural education who has been assisting the District in its work.

The meeting - including facilitated discussions about the District's vision for equity connected to student achievement and about positively impacting school environments - will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Educational Services Center, 34200 Alvarado-Niles Rd., Union City. Parents interested in attending are asked to RSVP to this e-mail.

Call for volunteers:
Once again this year, the Union Landing Wal-Mart has offered to collect school supplies for New Haven Unified School District students with a "Stuff the Bus" event, and volunteers are needed to help.

On August 12-14, a District bus will be parked outside Wal-Mart, and customers will be invited to "Stuff the Bus" by purchasing designated school supplies that can be left in donation bins inside the store or brought outside to the bus.

Although the donation bins will be out all weekend, volunteers are needed to help promote the event during high-volume hours, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Volunteers will greet customers and hand out fliers, staff the bins to collect donations and thank donors, and sort supplies as they are brought to the bus. Volunteers will be asked to work three-hour shifts: 11a.m. - 2 p.m., 2 p.m. - 5 p.m., or 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 12 noon - 3 p.m. or 3 p.m. -6 p.m. on Sunday.

If you would like to help, please send email to: rlaplante@nhusd.k12.ca.us and indicate which shift(s) would best work for you.

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