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    Albany school employees may lose job under state budget cut

     By Linjun Fan

    Several employees of Albany Unified School District would lose their jobs if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal is approved by the California State Legislature.

    Albany school district would get about $700,000 less in funding from the state in the 2008 – 09 academic year,  if the budget proposed by Governor Schwarzenegger is approved. A total of $4 billion would be cut for K-12 education statewide under the proposal.

    To cope with the funding reduction, the school district would encourage 10 to 12 teachers to retire; it would not purchase new instructional materials for a whole year; it would also cut funding to various programs by 10 per cent, according to a report recently prepared by Superintendent William Wong.

    Several school employees would lose their jobs if Wong’s recommendation is carried out.

    One part-time teacher or three assistants of the Economic Impact Aid program, which primarily aims to provide instructions to English learners, would be laid off under the funding cut. One employee funded by the School Library Improve Block Grant might also be laid off.

    The district usually sends lay-off warning letters to the temporary employees funded by donated money every spring. But it will send out more such letters this year, due to uncertainties with the budget, according to Board Member Miriam Walden.

    “We lay people off even though we are not sure we will need to, because we have to continue planning a budget, and we have to wait for the final information, ” Walden said.

    The district would have to spend more than 1.5 million of its reserve funds, which is about two million in total at its disposal, to deal with the potential budget deficit in the upcoming academic year.

    More district employees would be affected if the state continues the budget cut in the 2009-10 academic year.

    “If the state cuts the budget for two years in a row, the district would have to cut some full-time teaching positions, ” said Charles Blanchard, President of the School Board.

    About eight teaching positions might be cut in that case, Blanchard said.

    The board would identify the eight positions at its upcoming meeting, if Alameda County Office of Education asks it to get further prepared for potential budget problems.

    Still, Albany school district would be better off than many of its neighboring districts, which are slashing millions in spending to deal with the statewide budget crisis, according to Superintendent Wong.

    The district has been building up its reserve funds in the past several years, largely with money brought by increased enrollment.

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