School board lays off 15, cuts 31 non-teaching jobs

Margaret Shelley, senior labor relations representative at the California School Employees Association office in San Diego, talks with an estimated 35 Ramona school employees protesting proposed layoffs outside school district offices before the school board meeting Thursday night. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson
Margaret Shelley, senior labor relations representative at the California School Employees Association office in San Diego, talks with an estimated 35 Ramona school employees protesting proposed layoffs outside school district offices before the school board meeting Thursday night. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

By Maureen Robertson

Saying they are frustrated, sickened, pained and deflated, Ramona Unified School District trustees voted last night to

lay off 15 workers and cut 16 other non-teaching jobs that are vacant.

The cuts are projected to save the district $200,000 this school year and $700,000 in 2012-13 and subsequent years.

This could be just the beginning unless the district finds ways to deal with the nearly $5 million deficit projected in the governor’s proposal for 2012-13, district officials said. With the governor’s proposed $6.9 billion tax increase, the Ramona district faces a deficit of $11.6 million in 2013-14, according to David Ostermann, assistant superintendent of administrative services. Without the tax increase, the projected deficit is $15.9 million in 2013-14.

“We’ve done everything we can,” said Trustee Rodger Dohm, noting that the district in the past few years has cut $7 million from the budget. “We have spent our reserve down to the (state-mandated) 3 percent. It’s gone all the way this year, and there’s nothing left, so that’s where we are. It is real. I wish it wasn’t.”

An estimated 35 workers gathered outside the district offices before the 7 p.m. school board meeting, and about 80

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Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

filled the board room for the meeting, with others listening from the hall. Ten employees spoke to the board, including Jim King, president of the union representing the non-teaching workers losing their jobs.

“These totally outrageous proposed cuts are out of line, and the sad part is that I believe you know that,” he said. “The classified employees of this district have been taking the brunt of the cuts over the last five years.”

The cuts include seven night custodians, 12 special education para-educators, three groundskeepers, one accountant, one instructional para-educator, one attendance/health technician, one bus driver/instructor, two clerks, one receptionist, one secretary and one student support services technician.

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Linda Keyser, bus driver/instructor for more than 20 years, is among district employees talking to trustees at their meeting Thursday night. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

The board did not cut a warehouse delivery job after Wesley Cloward said that his food services delivery job is funded through food services, not the general fund.

“I really don’t know how I got picked for this,” he said, referring to the proposed cut list.

“From a logical and fiscal perspective, I would personally like to see that one removed from the list and re-evaluated, at a minimum,” said Dan Lopez, board president.

The other trustees agreed, and Cloward’s job was removed from the list.

The cuts are effective March 12, with the workers’ last day on the job March 9, said Anne Staffieri, assistant superintendent of human resources, adding that the full-time employees will continue to receive benefits until June 30.

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Dan Lopez, left, president of the Ramona school board, listens as Superintedent Robert Graeff answers a question. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

Because of the contract the union has with the district, some of the employees scheduled to lose their jobs have “bumping rights” to jobs they previously held with the district and may opt to return to their previous job, said Staffieri.

   
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