RIALTO - Faced with state and federal budget cuts of $21million and declining enrollment, the school district announced plans to fire 9 percent of its teachers and counselors, but primarily teachers.

An additional 19percent could be gone by the beginning of the next school year.

The proposed tally includes an additional 271 possible layoffs, plus roughly 100 probationary teachers with one-year contracts who won't get asked to return to the classroom in the fall.

About 30 additional teachers without full credentials also could get the ax.

Concerned about the impact of layoffs on the Rialto Unified School District, parents, teachers and other district employees came to the school board's Wednesday night meeting to plea for teachers' jobs.

"Thank you for training me. Now maybe some other district will have me," said Nora Manuel, a kindergarten teacher who was one of 271 teachers and counselors to receive a notice from the school district that they might be laid off before the next school year.

The district has about 1,450 teachers, counselors, nurses and speech therapists.

One result of the cuts could be class sizes in kindergarten through third grade would jump from 20 to 32 students.

The school board delayed a vote on whether to lay off 63 cafeteria workers, secretaries, teacher aides and other support staff.

"I'm happy. It gives us time to come up with something - a plan," said Bob McDaniel,

president of the Rialto Classified School Employees Association.

During the public comment period of the meeting, the board seemed to be under attack from teachers and parents.

Some teachers said administrators have been opposed to the 20-to-1 student-teacher ratio and have been using proposed state budget cuts as an excuse to eliminate it.

"You do not like 20 to 1, and I have known that for five years," said Penny Robinson, a third-grade teacher.

"I am tired of the way these teachers are treated," she said.

Throughout the meeting, board President Dan Mays said he supports small class sizes but the budget crisis limited the district's options.

"At this point, we're running out of options," he said.

Cheryl Brown, publisher of The Black Voice News, suggested the board hold a workshop with the community.

"So it's not something that is insurmountable, and it just seems it is a situation that could be worked out," she said.

After an initially prickly board reception to the idea of holding a workshop, board member Joanne Gilbert eventually convinced her colleagues that holding a workshop would be wise.

No date has been set yet.

Officials in surrounding districts hope they won't have to lay off any teachers.

The San Bernardino City Unified School District sent possible lay-off notices to 155 teachers and counselors out of 3,503 total.

"We're thinking that it's unlikely that we'll have to go ahead with those cuts," said spokeswoman Linda Bardere.

Officials in the Fontana and Redlands Unified school district are not planning to lay off teachers.


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