May 2 2013 12:00 AM

Lansing Board of Education pink slips 140 teachers, 35 other employees

City Pulse File Photo

Thursday, May 2 — Through a combination of layoffs and eliminating positions, the Lansing Board of Education unanimously approved pink-slipping 140 teachers and 35 employees at its meeting tonight.

Of those 140 teachers, 87 art, music and physical education positions will be eliminated next year as part of a new contract reached with the teachers’ union. Classroom teachers will fill that role as they give up planning time to take on the extra duties.

Patti Seidl, president of the Lansing Schools Education Association, the district’s teachers union, holds no ill will toward the board or administration over the layoffs.

“Nobody likes to see this happen,” she said. “Is it the board’s fault? Is it the union’s fault? No. We have to go back to how we’re funding public education and that’s been my mantra. When you take $6 million out two years in a row, it has an impact and this is the impact.”

Other layoffs include 25 classroom support staff, five administrative staffers and five other “Meet & Confer” positions, like technology and print-shop positions.

The employees will be notified by May 7. The move’s expected to save the district about $6.4 million.

Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul said the district had hoped to only have to pink slip 100 teachers, but the 140 will give the district a “cushion” when reworking staffing levels.

“We need a cushion. The other option is they stay employed over the summer and we end up with too many people and we have to lay them off and it’s too late to find a job,” she said. “This is really the kinder, gentler way of handling this issue — even though it’s painful.”

Caamal Canul said about 27 teachers agreed to early retirement, which will be figured into the staffing decisions.

In addition to the 140 employees affected by tonight’s decision, on Tuesday, the board approved eliminating four administrative positions. That will save the district roughly $400,000, Caamal Canul said.

A presentation on the district’s budget is scheduled for the board’s May 16 meeting. The district has already cut 10 to 12 percent of “non-personnel” budgets, Caamal Canul said, which will save the district $2.5 million.

“Our cuts are not strictly personnel related,” she said. “There are a lot of other things we’ve been trimming and slimming down.”