With final deadline, layoffs still issued in Nevada County schools | TheUnion.com

With final deadline, layoffs still issued in Nevada County schools

Jennifer Terman
Staff Writer

Because of a higher number of retirees and a slightly improved budget, some teachers' jobs were restored after the final layoff notice deadline May 15.

Nevada Joint Union High School District anticipated nine layoffs in March, which decreased to five, said assistant superintendent Trisha Dellis.

The change was due to retirements and leaves of absence, Dellis said, and it is possible more positions can be restored up to the first day of instruction.

"We're still hopeful we can bring people back and be less than five," she said.

“We’re still hopeful we can bring people back and be less than five (layoffs).”

— Trisha Dellis,
Nevada Joint Union High School District assistant superintendent

Pleasant Ridge delivered 5.5 notices and was able to retain two employees after enrollment numbers settled and one teacher retired.

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But the fact remains that the number of students decreased from what was at one time 2,400 to next year's projected enrollment of 1,368, said superintendent Britta Skavdahl.

"We were seeing where the numbers were going to land," she said. "This time of year, we're really monitoring in and out enrollment for the next year, and the variety of things put together became a no-brainer."

Anne Vaaler, the choral director who garnered support from scores of parents and students when her job was threatened, was given half-time status for next year, which keeps the music department intact, Skavdahl said.

Though the partial status is an improvement, Vaaler said she needs to teach full time and that the quality of the program will have to be compromised with the reduction.

"For me, it is a double-edged sword," she said in an email. "I am continuing to search for full-time employment but prefer to continue working in the schools where I have spent the last 11 years building our current program."

The 1.5 music teachers will do their best, "but there is no way to cut half of a teacher's time and expect the same instructional services," Vaaler said.

Because of declining enrollment, two full-time music teachers is unnecessary, Skavdahl maintained, and because Vaaler only has her music credential, she is unable to teach a different subject.

"If she had a multiple-subject credential, I'd have more sway, but she doesn't," Skavdahl said.

Ready Springs released one three-quarter time employee who taught fourth grade in a combination class, based off attendance projections.

"We never know how it's all going to shake out by August, so we just do our best estimate on attendance numbers," said Ready Springs principal Thomas Bivens.

Twin Ridges School District released one full-time seventh and eighth grade teacher, an impact of small enrollment, said superintendent James Berardi.

"It's going to be tough. It's always tough when you lose people," he said.

The change in numbers from March to May is mostly dependent on enrollment and retirements, and not so much on the state budget, said Holly Hermansen, Nevada County superintendent of schools.

"The final layoffs have taken place, which puts districts in an awkward situation because they don't know what the money will actually be once the final state budget is released," she said. "There's more information now, but it still isn't final."

The governor will release the final budget in June. Until then, schools wait, Skavdahl said, "until we get a better picture of what the state budget will look like moving forward."

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email jterman@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.

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