By Kristin Grafft
Despite the passage of Proposition 30, classified employees continue to get laid off in the Norwalk La Mirada Unified School District.
Tammy Shafer, Chapter President of the California School Employees Association, attended the board meeting on Monday, July 22 to voice the concerns of the district’s classified employees.
Shafer said there is a lot of concern because nine employees have been laid off in just the past three meetings.
“And why?” Shafer said in an interview with Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper – Community News.
“We’re still not getting the right answers, I feel, when we worked really hard for Proposition 30… It’s very disheartening when other districts are giving raises and restoring furlough days.”
During her presentation to the board, Shafer expressed the hard work of the classified people in the district. Shafer cited the custodian who voluntarily coaches football during lunchtime as one of the many examples.
Shafer said that these dedicated employees stuck by the district during hard times hoping that “when things got better they would start getting restoration of their jobs and hours.” However, Shafer complained, despite having over a 17% reserve in the budget, classified staff is still being laid off. Instead, Shafer said the district thinks the classifieds should be replaced with volunteers and tutors.
“It worries me that, for one, why is it so large of a reserve? And if we are cutting these elementary budgets by thousands of dollars why aren’t we using some of this money to help them keep their Para educators in their classrooms and their media-techs and their librarians? They should not be cutting these people out.” Shafer said.
Shafer also questioned the closed session item of appointing a new director of purchasing. After a classified position in this department was not filled following a retirement, Shafer asked,
“Is there a need to increase the salary of a supervisor? Can we get a rationale for this please?”
ADDITIONAL BOARD ACTIONS
In other items, Superintendent Dr. Ruth Perez reported on her effort in lobbying for the Klein Bill. “It was a very interesting experience to lobby for a republican bill,” Perez said. However she explained that it was the “lesser of two evils.”
Perez said she believes the Harkin Bill to be much more problematic because it gives too much power to the federal government in regard to testing and teachers. She also said that the Harkin Bill would add 28 to 29 new expectations on top of the expectations already included in the deeply flawed current bill, “No Child Left Behind.”
“The punitive pieces of No Child Left Behind and the lack of flexibility really make it hard for us,” Perez said.
Perez said her biggest “take-away” was realizing the representatives really have no idea what it’s actually like for the schools. She described their reactions as disbelief to many of her comments. Perez was glad she was able to show the representatives what it is really like, especially in California, and to push for a bill that “might actually get passed.”
Perez also said she was grateful just to be able to talk about these bills, as she did not think it would be an option this year. She is excited that they are finally working on reforming the no child left behind bill.