Vista’s Jones facing job cut

Popular football coach is ‘confident’ things will work out
By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Chris Jones the football coach isn’t much different than Chris Jones the teacher. He’s got faith in his team to come back when trailing by 14 at halftime and he’s got faith that his teaching position will be salvaged when everything is sorted out with the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. Jones, 34, received notice in mid-March that he might lose his job as a physical education instructor at Vista del Lago High because of budget issues, but he remains positive in the face of uncertainty. “I’m confident it will all work out,” Jones said. “To a certain degree it’s up in the air, but I plan on teaching and coaching at Vista del Lago for a long time.” Jones remains optimistic in part because he went through a similar situation last year and still maintained his position at the school, so he hopes it will all work out again this year. He’s received tremendous support from students at the school, who twice last week before school held a demonstration in front of the school at Broadstone Parkway. Kalib Smith, a junior wide receiver and free safety on the varsity team, was one of about 30 to show up and support the popular teacher and coach. “He’s a great guy and a great coach and it would be wrong to release him,” said Smith. “He’s made me a better player; twice as good as I was before. If they have to bring someone else in, we’ll have to start all over so we’re out here trying to make that not an option.” Smith’s mom, Kim, helped organize the show of support for Jones. “I think the system is broken when the good guys like Chris can slip through the cracks because of budget issues,” Smith said. “Good teachers are hard to come by. The kids love him. He’s ‘the guy’ on campus.” Another parent of a varsity football player, Karla White, also showed up to support Jones. “It’s hard to put into words how much he means to the kids because he encompasses so much,” White said. “He’s their teacher and their coach and their friend. The kids want to play for him.” Jones said he’s received tons of support from both the student body, as well as the administration at Vista del Lago. “That support has been huge,” Jones said. “We’re like a family at Vista and it’s been terrific. That’s something we’ve worked to create here.” While Jones remains optimistic about his job, it seems apparent that many jobs are on the line in the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. Superintendent Patrick Godwin said there could be as many as 80 layoffs because of budget cuts. “Chris Jones could be the poster boy for the problems the state is having with its budget crisis,” Godwin said. “I’ve received a lot of phone calls and e-mails about Chris Jones and many other teachers and administrators whose jobs are in jeopardy because of this crisis. “Initially there were 40 or so who were going to lose their jobs, but with the governor’s latest proposal, it could be double that number. We’re exploring every option to minimize the impact.” Godwin said California schools are funded below the national average. The national average per 1,000 students is 64 teachers and 3.2 administrators and California is at 48 teachers and 2.2 administrators per 1,000 students. “They want us to cut from that,” Godwin said. “We hope to be able to bring back key staff in the next few days, but we don’t know what the legislators are going to do with the failure of propositions 1A through 1E. But we are aware of the impact on the students, staff and parents and we’re going to move as rapidly as possible.” While Jones is optimistic, he realizes his future is out of his hands and in many ways, the school district’s too. “It’s hard because it’s out of the control of the school district in many cases,” Jones said. Jones said he hopes to find out about his future by the middle of this month. Matt Long may be reached at