Music teacher layoffs loom
By Theresa Harrington
Out of about 350 pink slips issued by the Mt. Diablo school district, 180 have been rescinded, the assistant superintendent for personnel told me this afternoon.
That leaves about 170 teachers and other credentialed employees wondering if they’ll have jobs in the fall.
Music teachers have been hit especially hard because the school board has agreed to eliminate fifth-grade instrumental music next year.
In addition, the district is trying to negotiate the elimination of elementary school prep time currently covered by vocal music teachers. Music teachers who hold more than one credential, such as Elizabeth Emigh and Mundy Viar at Clayton Valley High School, did not get pink-slipped because they could teach other subjects.
Emigh could teach English and Viar could teach U.S. government and civics. But both teachers said music is their passion.
“Why would I want to give up something I’m an expert in and give kids less than my expertise?” Emigh said.
The district issued 25 pink slips to music teachers and has rescinded eight, said Gail Isserman, assistant superintendent for personnel services.
“We had to go very high up in seniority, if we were going to eliminate music prep — way higher than we were going to eliminate any other subject areas,” she said. “So, that’s why we needed a separate music list.”
The district has posted lists of all pink-slipped employees on its Website at http://www.mdusd.org/NewsRoom/Documents/certlayoffinfo.pdf. The music list is alphabetical and includes teachers hired as early as 1987.
Here is the music list:
Geoffry Cartner (rescinded; hired in 1987)
Nicole Kellersberger (probationary teacher)
Eric Thompson (probationary teacher)
You can see a video of Delta View Elementary school’s instrumental music program here: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid16737344001?bclid=1659839212&bctid=49465399001
Isserman said the district has not yet begun negotiations with the teachers’ union. Teachers who have received preliminary layoff notices can attend public administrative hearings regarding credentials and/or seniority April 27-29 at the Willow Creek Center in Concord.
Gary McAdam, principal of Concord High, said both his instrumental and vocal music teachers — Gary Coartney and Christian Emigh — have received preliminary layoff notices. The absence of Coartney and Emigh next year would be devastating, McAdam said.
“It’s horrible,” he said. “It will destroy a top music program. And, this is some of the reason students attend. It’s not just the three Rs, it’s those electives — sports, music and drama — and everything else you do.”
Budget cuts have forced Concord High to eliminate German language and zoology classes and to reduce sections of auto shop, drama, ceramics, bowling and biology, McAdam said.
Teachers will receive final layoff notices in May.