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By Kathryn Adams
Special to the Village News 

FUHSD eliminates classified staff, reduces hours

 

Last updated 7/19/2019 at 4:37am



On June 24, Fallbrook Union High School District board of trustees held a regular meeting with perhaps the most controversial topic of the evening being Public Employee Discipline/Dismissal/Release (Government Code Section 54957), which regarded the “Elimination and/or Reduction in Hours of Designated Classified Positions.”

According to the FUHSD website, concerning the “Elimination and/or Reduction in Hours of Designated Classified Positions, Board Resolution No. 13-1819, the district needed the board of trustees to take action “due to lack of work or lack of funds” to “eliminate and/or reduce the hours of certain classified positions.”

The district website stated that the estimated savings associated with eliminating classified staff’s positions and reducing classified staff’s hours would allow the district to save $761,986 from the general fund in terms of salary and benefits.

The board of trustees voted to eliminate 10 employee positions and reduce three employees’ hours. Of the eliminated positions, five were unfilled. The vacant positions included:

Secretary I: 2.0 (8.0 hrs/day, 11 months)

Guidance Technician: 1.0 (8.0 hrs/day, 11 months)

Data Coordinator: 1.0 (8.0 hrs/day, 12 months)

Finance Clerk (Food Services): 1.0 (8.0 hrs/day, 12 months)

Finance Clerk (Business Services)

The eliminated positions that were occupied by school employees included:

Duplication/Textbook Technician .88 (7.0 hrs/day, 11 months) Library Assistant (Ivy High School) .75 (6.0 hrs/day, 10 months)

Paraprofessional I, SE (2 at 3.5 hours) .44 (3.5 hrs/day, 11 months) Paraprofessional I, SE .47 (3.75 hrs/day, 11 months)

Paraprofessional II, SE (retirement) .81 (6.5 hrs/day, 9.5 months)

Kitchen Manager 1.0 (8.0 hrs/day, 12 months)

The employee positions that the board of trustees voted to reduce hours included:

1 Paraprofessional III 6.75 hours per day to 3.75 hours per day

1 Paraprofessional III 6.75 hours per day to 3.5 hours per day

1 Paraprofessional III 6.5 hours per day to 3.5 hours per day

Most of the positions that were cut were paraprofessionals who provide support for Special Education.

FUHSD Chapter President (representing classified staff) and paraprofessional Rose Peralta said, “The people being targeted by these cuts are the most experienced employees, which is prohibited in our contract. Many of us are paraprofessionals who work with the most vulnerable special needs students and students of color. Ultimately, these students will suffer the most because of these cuts.”

FUHSD parent and PTSA historian Julie Trafford also shared her concerns with the board of trustees’ vote to cut positions. She said, “They are cutting employees that are closely working with our most vulnerable students (paraprofessionals). These employees are vital for the success of these students, as well as being support staff to teachers. As an educator myself, as well as a parent of children that have utilized the learning center, I can’t even imagine those students, parents, as well as paraprofessionals' dismay of how detached the board is from the true meaning of education.”

It appears that the board of trustees voted to eliminate positions that they have deemed unnecessary as a cost cutting measure to tighten up the district’s budget.

Typically, if a school district has positions on the books that are vacant, they eliminate the positions in order to move the money elsewhere in their budget. The partial positions that were eliminated may have been redundant, or the work could be transferred to other employees.

David Garcias, president of the SEIU Local 221 (the union which represents classified staff at FUHSD), released a statement that said, “Cuts at Fallbrook Union High School District will hurt the most vulnerable special-education students and students of color. Management is engaging in shameful treatment of its employees with these cuts. Management told employees in May that layoffs would be avoided if seven members took a retirement incentive, a number which we exceeded with nine total taking the incentive. Now members of management changed their story. They are now proposing additional cuts to 11 positions. District officials bargained unfairly with us in a contract signed in April, and, ultimately, the children will be the victims of that.”

Peralta made a decision she thought would help her coworkers. She said, “As Fallbrook Union High School District Chapter President, I volunteered to take a retirement incentive with the understanding that my coworkers would be able to keep their jobs if seven of us did so. We had nine employees step up and take that incentive. These employees have multiple decades of experience – serving these special needs children is our passion. Management’s response is now to demand 11 more positions be cut.”

When asked how FUHSD students will be affected by the board's decision, Peralta explained that General Ed funds are supposed to support all students and that many of the special-needs children will be affected by this reduction in staff [because they already] have minimum staffing requirements.”

Trafford echoed Peralta’s concerns for special needs students, "When you have a mild-moderate student that has support staff you see the student achieving the chance to go to college or they are able to learn a trade which in turn saves money from the student being more dependent on the government, and trust me I work for a vocational non-profit that helps these students get amazing jobs through life skills and guidance and believing in them. Now we are taking away these services and placing these students without support with the emotional/behaviorally different students which can trigger those that are mild-moderate and so on and so on, and there is no support staff…now what is the teacher to do?”

While there has been declining enrollment for five years and substantial budget deficits, FUHSD recently added two expensive administrative positions (CSI Task Force Coordinator and CSI Task Force Technical Director) out of the district’s categorical funds.

In addition to concerns involving the learning needs of the approximately 246 special needs students, many other questions remain, including the causes of declining enrollment and the resulting budget difficulties.

When contacted regarding the layoffs, board of trustee vice president Lita Tabish referred the Village News to FUHSD Superintendent Ilsa Garza-Gonzalez for comments on the budget and reduction of staff.

The district did not respond by press time, but the Village News will run a follow-up story with the district’s viewpoint next week.

 

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