School workers volunteer to cut pay
In an effort to reduce the impact of budget cuts, members of Ramona Unified School District’s support staff have agreed to what amounts to a week’s cut in pay for the 2010-11 school year. Despite that, eight workers are scheduled to lose their jobs.
Effective July 1, members of the Ramona chapter of the Classified School Employees Association (CSEA) will not be paid for five local holidays: the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, the Friday before spring break and Admissions Day.
The pay cut, expected to save the district about $250,000, will not affect Ramona teachers, who continue to negotiate with the district through their union, the Ramona Teachers Association.
“The choices that we made were to help out our fellow employees and the district,” said Betsy Bargo, Ramona CSEA president. “We’re hoping that things get better. Everybody’s hoping that things get better.”
The employees’ action will also lessen the impact on students, Bargo said. Had the employees not agreed to the concession, the district, in addition to laying off eight workers, would have reduced hours for about 40 support staff. Some of those would have gone from full time to part time and thus would have lost health benefits the district provides.
CSEA represents school employees such as custodians, bus drivers, teacher aides, campus security officers, office and clerical staff, and those working in food services and other support jobs.
Employees affected by the layoffs are a bilingual para-educator, a night custodian, campus security officers and instructional para-educators, Dr. Joe Annicharico, the district’s assistant superintendent of Human Resources Development, told the school board.
“The classified unit has gone ahead and made this sacrifice of five days in pay…and we would appreciate the other areas of the district to be mindful of that and to also be careful with choices that they make, and hopefully it will all work out,” said Bargo.
“In working with Betsy and her leadership team, I know that this is unprecedented in Ramona,” said Annicharico. “It’s a very, very difficult leadership stance to take. (There was) lots of discussion among her unit members. It is, as she said, a sacrifice. It’s not an action that’s win-win, really, for anybody, but it is something that I think they should be commended for, showing the integrity and fortitude to take this type of sacrifice on behalf of other members of their unit.”
The district employs about 370 classified workers, Annicharico said. School board members thanked Bargo and the employees.
“We appreciate the honorable actions taken by the entire body on behalf of their members, and thanks for working with us,” board member Dawn Perfect said during the board’s May meeting.
Also at the meeting, board members heard another budget report showing the district faces a budget shortfall of $8.3 million. Without a formal analysis of the governor’s May Budget Revision for California, “we do not know what all those numbers mean to us,” said David Ostermann, assistant superintendent of Administrative Services.
“Actually, education fared better than the rest of the budget,” said Ostermann. “The rest of the budget is absorbing even heavier cuts in order to protect education from deeper cuts.”
The governor’s proposal for closing the state’s $19.1 billion budget gap is $12.4 billion in cuts, $3.4 billion in additional federal funds and $3.4 billion in “borrowing fund shifts, asset sales and surcharges,” said Ostermann.
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