By Sherry Posnick-Goodwin
Paraprofessionals from United Educators of San Francisco at a protest.
Statewide: Across California education support professionals (ESP) — who contribute greatly to school environments — are feeling the budget cuts as districts eliminate many vital classified positions. ESP do not have a March deadline, so many layoff notices for next year may not have been issued yet and the numbers are hard to estimate. A rundown from across the state shows that ESP associations are reporting a large number of members receiving pink slips or hearing that pink slips are on the way.
Redlands Unified School District
RUSD voted to eliminate 26 classified positions, reports Mike Shanteler, president of the Redlands Education Support Professionals Association (RESPA). The employees will be notified of their status in the district during the coming weeks. It is possible that more classified positions may be cut at the May board meeting.
We are changing the lives of many classified employees who have dedicated themselves to the children, the teachers and the staff of Redlands Unified School District," says Shanteler. "Who will be doing the work left behind because of these cuts? How will we maintain the high standards that our members are proud of and the community has come to expect from us?"
Association of Classified Employees–Culver City
Culver City ESP are expecting to receive about 60 notifications, says Penny Upton, CTA primary contact staff for that chapter. (President Debra Hamme was unavailable for comment.) "In all, we expect that one-fourth the total of bargaining unit members could be handed a pink slip in the near future." Clerks, typists, a custodian, a library clerk and a driver are expected to be among the job cuts. Teaching positions in the district were also cut.
Association of Education, Office and Technical Employees in Hayward
"Nobody has been pink-slipped yet," reports Kathleen Telles of the Association of Education, Office and Technical Employees in Hayward. "But they are going to be abolishing positions. They are going to cut 15 positions in the district office and five at the adult education center. That's 10 percent of our people."
Telles says classified employees are worried about whether the district can continue to function without them, especially when it comes to meeting payroll, accounting, ordering supplies and processing paperwork for free and reduced student lunches. Telles is worried that this is only the beginning.
"On top of this, there is an additional $300,000 more in cuts that will have to come out of our bargaining unit. So there will be more."
Hermosa Beach Education Association
A large number of HBEA ESP members are expected to receive layoff notices in the near future.
Lakeport Unified School District
LUSD voted to cut 12 classified positions, including classroom aides, library clerks, custodians, maintenance workers and transportation workers. Doreen McGuire-Griggs, president of the Lakeport Unified Classified Employees Association, says she has never seen it this bad.
"We are going higher and higher on the seniority list," she reports. "One library clerk whose position was cut has been in the district for 25 years. There is going to be a lot of 'bumping' taking place."
United Educators of San Francisco
There was also some good news: following a boisterous rally by UESF members on April 14, the San Francisco Unified school board decided not to lay off paraprofessionals or classroom aides. After a generous donation from the city's Rainy Day Fund and Mayor Gavin Newsom, the jobs of paraprofessionals will be preserved.
"The proposed layoffs would have done little to save the district money, but would have had a tremendous impact on the students, as well as on paras and their families," says UESF President Dennis Kelly. "The board rightly decided to protect the classroom. With over $20 million expected from the federal stimulus bill, the para layoffs made little sense. In fact, some of that money should be spent to expand the ranks of paras, not reduce them."
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