In a 0-5 vote, the Temple City Unified School District school board denied the passage of the Layoff and Reduction of CSEA #105 Classified Personnel on Wednesday, March 25, 2009.
The proposal would have laid off 22 part-time workers, reduced the hours of 24 more staff members, and halve the hours and benefits of one full-time employee at all school sites. The cost-cutting maneuver would have been estimated to save approximately $416,668.
The bold decision to delay further action, even in the midst of the economic downturn, was spurred largely by the disapproval of the tremendous burden that the plan forced upon the classified staff. These positions-which are comprised of media clerks and technicians, health clerks, instructional aides, and others-were the sole targets of the plan.
“We already have a $5.5 million balance, well above the 3% and 2% reserves [as required by the state and Temple City, respectively],” said Robin Penn, a dean’s office employee at Temple City High School and vocal opponent of lay-offs. “Four hundred thousand dollars wouldn’t make a dent in that.”
Penn, who has criticized the media for focusing on the plight of teachers while neglecting that of classified personnel, spearheaded a movement that brought Channel 4 News to Emperor Elementary School. The news team intends to investigate students’ interactions with the classified staff and present the information in a 2-minute segment, which will be aired later in the year.
Others feel that the process through which the cut was proposed was too rushed, as it hastily targeted one specific segment of the faculty in Temple City.
“Who’s going to pick up the burden? Or are we just washing our hands of it?” asked school board Vice President Rachel LaSota. “We need to go back to the drawing board on this.”
If the school board ever proceeds with layoffs, a plan would have to be approved of by June 30. However, all staff must be given a sixty days notice prior to being laid off, giving the board only until April 18 to notify the targets of all reductions.
For the time being, the board’s vote has shielded classified staff from harm’s way. But until further action is taken to quell the turmoil of a failing economy, the security of many educators’ positions remains in limbo.
This article was written by Jason Wu. It was published in the Temple City Voice on April 24, 2009.