The El Tejon Unified School District Board of Trustees voted Thursday, May 27 to lay off 13 classified (non-credentialed) employees, effective July 14.
The positions to be cut are: ten instructional aides, one school secretary, one textbook coordinator/library clerk and one assistant network technician, according to Resolution #10-20, which was unanimously approved by four board members. Trustee Cathy Wallace was not present.
Several employees stood to address the board, expressing dismay at the process, lack of personal notice given to the employees and disagreement with the decision. Teacher Sandra Spencer said that instructional aides are vital in the classroom, recounting how an aide once saved a child’s life by noticing that a student was diabetic and calling for help right away. Spencer also commented on the loss of the libraries: "It’s shocking that you’re considering closing the library. We use the library to check out our literature books. It’s hard to think that we’d have to function without a library."
Retina Jacobson said, "I have a fourth grader going through this district and I don’t think it’s fair for her not to have a library."
Attendees were speaking about the possibility that, with the layoff of the textbook coordinator/library cleark, the district might need to close the libraries if there is no person to fulfill those duties.
California School Employees Association (CSEA) Labor Relations Representative Carol Georges stood and asked the trustees to " take this resolution and pull it. Table it. We are canceling negotiations with the district and Schools Legal until the new superintendent" is here. Trustee Ken Hurst asked, "What benefit would you be seeking by tabling the resolution?" Georges responded, "To do it properly and be able to notice the employees. We have a new superintendent coming in and we don’t know what her wishes are."
Hurst added, "We are spending into our reserves. We had to cut $252,000. We were trying to find the least bad decision. I don’t know how the state expects to continue the way things are being run. They’ve just taken a meat ax to the education system over the last five years."
Board President Anita Anderson was sympathetic and thanked those who spoke. "I want you know we care and we want your input," Anderson said.
New Superintendent Named
The trustees also voted to approve a two-year contract for a new superintendent of schools. According to the as-yet unsigned contract, Katherine Kleier is to begin July 1, at a base salary of $113,452, in addition to expenses and stipends for academic degrees she holds. Kleier is listed as an "Assistant Principal, Curriculum" at the website of Highland High School in the Kern High School District.
This is part of the May 28, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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