Pasadena school district holds job fair while planning potential layoffs

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Like many other school districts Pasadena Unified is poised to send out temporary layoff notices next week. But Saturday, the school district's holding a morning job fair at Pasadena City Hall to fill about 100 job openings. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: The school district's human resources chief Shelly James says she's doing the math to figure out how many employees will resign, retire, and go on leave next year. To that number she'll add another.

Shelly James: We're always looking obviously, for very highly qualified math, science... there's a big, big shortage in speech and language, so we're trying to recruit for that.

Guzman-Lopez: And special education instructors. At the Saturday job fair she'll be joined by teachers, principals, and others ready to interview and hire on the spot.

James: If we find some hotshot math teachers, I have some contingent contracts that I'm going to have with me. And their contracts would be contingent on their reference calls and their credentials.

Guzman-Lopez: James says that Pasadena Unified's school board could approve some temporary layoffs next week. Budget cuts and federal teacher requirements have put about a quarter of the state's school districts in a similar position, says Bob Wells, executive director of the Association of California School Administrators.

Bob Wells: The alternative to hiring math and special ed teachers would be to have someone who's not well qualified to teach mathematics go teach that, because they're already on your payroll; and that's not as good for our students.

Guzman-Lopez: Wells says up to 50,000 public school employees will get provisional layoff notices this month. School administrators plan to comb through the federal stimulus money they're expecting before they make final layoff decisions in May.