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School Calendar Reduction Approved
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By a simple majority vote, Escalon Unified School District certificated staff members have approved a five-day calendar reduction for the 2010-2011 school year. The cost cutting measure will save nine - and possibly a tenth - job, with previously issued pink skips sent to those employees pulled back.

District Superintendent Dave Mantooth said the teachers union voted to accept the reduction, while a "tentative agreement" has also been reached with the classified staff for the reduction.

Based on the Escalon Unified Teachers Association vote, the day after Veterans' Day and the final week of school will be the dates for closure. That means graduation in 2011 will be on May 27, with the school closed May 31, June 1, 2 and 3.

"It's a one year process," Mantooth said of taking the five-day reduction, noting that it is in place only for the coming school year at this time.

The state allowed the five day reduction as an option to schools for saving money and jobs.

"It (teacher vote) allows us to use a method provided by the state to cut expenditures," Mantooth said.

The five day reduction will result in a cost savings of about $460,000 for the district.

Mantooth said the district had facts and figures available when presenting the five day reduction option to the union representatives.

"We presented our revenue assumptions and we've already notified nine employees that they are off the layoff list," Mantooth said.

Five are in the K-6 area, while two counselors and two single subject credentialed teachers also had their pink slips pulled.

Not all of those in danger of losing their jobs are safe yet, but Mantooth said it is at least a start.

"The teachers voted to share the pain," he said, noting all agreed to take a pay cut through the loss of the five calendar days, but all losing some means more still working.

"I think the teachers were glad he acted so quickly," EUTA President Ray Roncale said of the pink slips being recalled as soon as the union voted for the calendar reduction. "The understanding was the five days would save jobs and it's a big relief."

But Roncale said now they will look for ways to save more of those teachers on the pink slip list. He also said that while the vote was about two-thirds in favor of the calendar reduction, all members have seemed to accept the decision.

"I haven't heard anyone bad mouth it," he said. "Majority rules."

Mantooth said the classified staff is expected to vote on the proposal within the next couple of weeks.

"We feel good," Mantooth said of saving jobs, but agreed he hopes more can also be spared the budget ax.

School enrollment figures, the state's May revise of the budget and other factors will figure in to the district budget as well, with school board members still putting that plan together.