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No layoffs for local teachers

Librarians, custodians still on chopping block
By: Brad Smith Telegraph Correspondent
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During a special July 30 meeting of the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, board members voted unanimously to accept the contract negotiated between the district and the Folsom Cordova Education Association’s membership. The vote was met by applause from a small but enthusiastic crowd of supporters seated in the Folsom High School’s library. Superintendent Patrick Godwin told everyone in attendance that the negotiations — held earlier this month — between the district and union representatives worked out an agreement “beneficial to everyone involved” and congratulated for their efforts. “With this agreement in hand,” Godwin said, “we (the district) can move forward and work together because we still have a long road ahead of us.” FCEA’s president Mark Schultz, echoed Godwin’s sentiments and said a primary factor in the negotiations’ success was the federal stimulus money the district will receive. “It should be noted that we got nothing from the state, not a cent,” Schultz added. Godwin and Schultz said that thanks to the stimulus money and the FCEA’s willingness to take furlough days and other concessions, the “worst-case scenario” had been avoided for the time being. “The layoffs that were made over the summer have been rescinded,” Godwin said. Special elective programs for both middle and high school students will be reinstated, along with athletic programs, he said. Not all certificated positions were spared, however. Schultz said that the layoffs made in March are still in effect. “Yes, it would be nice to bring those people back,” he said, “but it’s just not in the cards. And, given the current economy, I can’t say when they’ll be back.” Blaine White, a Folsom High School counselor, was happy with the outcome. “It’s good to know that my job and others’ jobs are safe. But, more importantly, our students haven’t lost the programs and classes they’ll need to further their education,” White said. Godwin is also worried about what the future holds. “I’m concerned about next year. I’m still concerned about this year,” Godwin said. “We’re still looking at ways to circumvent (unexpected financial drains on the district). Having parents make voluntary donations and setting up a fund raising foundation are things we might put in to action.” Another issue on Godwin’s mind is the California School Employees Association — the union for classified personnel such as librarians, cooks, janitors and bus drivers. During negotiations with the district, the CSEA hadn’t reached an agreement even after their Friday meeting. According to Godwin and CSEA President Steve Hanson, talks broke down Friday afternoon. “They made us an offer that the district couldn’t agree to financially,” Godwin said. Hanson said that his union and the district’s negotiators traded a series of offers and counter-offers for a few hours but to no avail. “With the district, they liked some of our offers and appreciated the fact that we’re thinking outside of the box,” Hanson said. However, he added, those solutions couldn’t fit within the district’s budgetary limits. On the CSEA’s side, Hanson said that his union wanted assurances from the district that once the classified employees agreed to furloughs and pay cuts, the district wouldn’t require them to take even more concessions. “We’re willing to sit down with the district’s negotiators anytime,” Hanson said. “We haven’t given up yet. We need to work out something by Aug. 31 or the libraries will close and custodial duties will be cut.” Godwin doesn’t want to see libraries shutdown and other services curtailed. “I hope that we can work something out. It’s going to be tough,” Godwin said, “but if we can work together, we can make this work. But, we have to work together.”