Things got a little tense last night when the Fremont school board discussed the possibility of laying off permanent teachers. Under current terms of the contract, only temporary teachers can be let go, and teachers with permanent teaching status are protected from layoffs.
There will be a more detailed story on this issue in tomorrow’s paper. One thing I learned from the discussion is that the Fremont Unified District Teachers Association may be the only union in the state with a contract which guarantees permanent teachers from being laid off. Not even the district’s other employee groups have this gaurantee.
Union reps say the no-layoff clause is one reason FUSD can attract and retain qualified teachers. I don’t think trustees would disagree with the benefits of job security, but as the Fremont teachers union President Jeff Poe said to me today, trustees “were looking at giving themselves maximum flexibility” when it comes to making budget cuts.
The district must cut $25 million over the next two years. Although trustees weren’t directly being asked to amend the teachers contract, by approving program cuts, some teachers with permanent teaching status might end up without jobs. Hence, Wednesday’s discussion ended up being about whether the board could make such cuts, and, by default, about the job security of permanent teachers.
Ivy Wu, one of the school board members, was visibly frustrated with the budget crisis. At a loss for words initially, Wu eventually summed up her feelings by blurting out, “It really sucks,” which elicited a few chuckles from audience members. But a couple board members borrowed her words later on, so perhaps it is the best way to describe the state’s budget impacts on education.