Novato school officials vote to eliminate sports, lay off 59

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Novato school officials vote to eliminate sports, lay off 59

Postby Moderator » Thu Feb 26, 2009 10:46 am

Novato school officials vote to eliminate sports, lay off 59 teachers
By Rob Rogers, Marin Independent Journal

Novato school officials voted to lay off up to 59 classroom teachers and eliminate athletics Tuesday, even though the district will receive about $1 million more from the state than predicted.
"I've been on the board 14 years, and this is the worst action we've had to take," said trustee Cindi Clinton. "It doesn't make sense to take our youngest teachers - our newest employees - and leave them with all this uncertainty. I hate to have to be one of the seven people (making this vote). These are horrible times."

The district board took those unprecedented steps - in addition to laying off the district's two remaining librarians and eliminating an elementary school principal - because the money promised by last week's state budget compromise will remain in doubt until May 19, when voters will decide whether to support several cost-cutting ballot measures.

"We're about a million dollars better than we were two weeks ago," said Chief Financial Officer Marla Blackledge. "But if all of those ballot measures don't pass, there are going to be more changes in May."

Until then, board members say they have no choice but to let teachers and other staff members know their jobs could be in jeopardy by the required deadline of March 15.

School officials took some comfort in knowing that the latest state budget cut less than they had predicted from the per-student revenues that make up the majority of the district's funds: $1.1 million rather than the expected $1.9
million in the current year, and $610,000 rather than $1 million in the 2009-10 school year.
"The other cuts may be horrible, but cuts to revenue limits weren't as bad as they could have been," said Superintendent Jan LaTorre Derby.

But that good news was offset by the state's heavy cuts to categorical programs - including arts and music, gifted and talented education, violence prevention and even the high school exit exam - many of which lost 15 percent of their funding for the current year and will lose another 4.9 percent in 2009-10.

Despite requests from parents and coaches to save popular programs like junior ROTC, the board voted unanimously to make the recommended cuts.

"It's shameful what we're doing," said trustee Ross Millerick, who apologized in advance for his vote. "And it's shameful that money coming out of Marin County will be going to the Central Valley, to those legislators who voted against education."

Both LaTorre Derby and board members and say they're counting on input from parents and other residents at a series of three budget meetings to help them make whatever final decisions are necessary following the May revision of the state budget. That includes a proposal to save money by increasing the cap on elementary class sizes from 20 to 24 students.

The budget forums will take place at 6 p.m. on March 4 at San Marin High School, March 18 at Novato High School and April 8 at the district office.

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Trevor
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Re: Novato school officials vote to eliminate sports, lay off 59

Postby Trevor » Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:07 pm

I grew up in Novato and was horrified when I heard about this. I have to hope that the city is using this as a scare tactic to drum up donations and commercial sponsorship to make up the budget shortfall.

First off, making this move at this stage of the game could open the town up to a pretty serious class action lawsuit. Let's say I am a junior at Novato High School and I am getting looked at by college coaches in the sport that I am playing. Let's also say my family cannot afford the $12,000 tuition at Marin Catholic. You can make a very strong legal argument that the City of Novato would be depriving me of possible scholarship dollars and has reduced my options in terms of attending a college of my choosing.

Secondly, I cannot fathom the reaction the rest of the schools in the NCS would have if this goes through. Novato and San Marin have sports where they are fairly strong in and have produced plenty of Division I athletes in the past. Marin Catholic would have a once in a lifetime opportunity to cherrypick the best players in each sport since they would really be the only viable option.

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Re: Novato school officials vote to eliminate sports, lay off 59

Postby Water-Polo-Fan » Tue Mar 03, 2009 2:35 pm

Trevor wrote: ... You can make a very strong legal argument that the City of Novato would be depriving me of possible scholarship dollars and has reduced my options in terms of attending a college of my choosing...


Trevor, while I absolutely agree that what is happening in Novato (it's also happening in San Jose) is awful I could argue, regrettably, that the school district's only responsibility is to provide each and every student the opportunity of a "quality" education NOT Athletics. They got rid of music and art a long time ago in the schools so it was only a matter of time before athletics made the list.

Although California's Education Code provides for oversight of the schools in relation to the CIF I don't see any language in the Education Code that states public or private schools are required to afford a student the "opportunity" for "possible" scholarship dollars. Everyone has the opportunity to attend the college of their choosing. I just don't see your argument that public/private schools are liable when the school districts can't economically provide an extracurricular activity that may, or may not, allow a student a chance at scholarship money that is neither provided, or controlled, by those same public/private schools.

Like I said, I wish it wasn't happening at all just like everyone else, but I don't follow your "strong legal argument."

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Re: Novato school officials vote to eliminate sports, lay off 59

Postby Trevor » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:01 pm

It's actually a somewhat murky issue. The only case that I could find is on page 24 in the below link. I believe this case was settled out of court if my research is correct.

http://law.marquette.edu/s3/site/images ... ey2005.pdf

The beauty of the American judicial system is that all you need is for one parent in Novato and San Jose to be a lawyer with enough free time on his hands to make an issue out of it. Then you end up weighing the cost versus contesting a lawsuit over a long period of time against your initial decision to drop sports.

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