DOWNEY - At the request of more than a dozen Downey Unified School District campuses, the Board of Education voted on Tuesday to eliminate more than 70 part-time instructional aide positions throughout the school system, attributing the layoffs to a shortage in funding.The Board decision, which takes effect this summer, calls for broad cuts to teacher's aide positions at almost every school in the district, including all 13 elementary schools. According to Kenneth Kato, director of Classified Human Resources, 17 school site councils, made up of parents, teachers and administrators, asked that the positions be eliminated as a cost-saving measure, resulting in the abolishment of 71 instructional assistant positions and one computer applications assistant position. After years of district budget cuts, Superintendent Wendy Doty maintained these new layoffs were initiated by the schools themselves, not the district. However, Doty conveyed remorse over the reluctant decision. "We are very sad we had to do this. We've made every cut we can over the last four years ‚àí there's just not a lot left to cut," Doty said. "These are our regular instructional assistants who help aide our teachers in the classroom. There were 100 of them in our system, now only 29 remain." Doty said the staff cuts came as a result of reductions to state and federal education funding utilized by school site councils who develop, review and evaluate school improvement programs and school budgets. "The councils invested money in different ways based on the needs of the students," said Doty. "Many schools, especially the elementary schools, hired instructional assistants, but that money got cut back." Subsequently, teacher's aide positions will be eliminated at every elementary school site: Alameda (6 aides), Carpenter (2 ), Gallatin (3), Gauldin (10), Imperial (5), Lewis (6), Old River (3), Price (4), Rio Hondo (9), Rio San Gabriel (2), Unsworth (3), Ward (8) and Williams (6). In addition, East Middle School (1), Griffiths Middle School (1), West Middle School (2) and Downey High School (1) will also lose instructional assistant positions. Following this academic year, the layoffs will begin with those aides who hold the least seniority in the merit system. Those newest to the district will be bumped out first, but Doty hopes that most of the laid off workers will find other positions within the school system. "We had a meeting on Monday explaining to everyone why we had to do this," said Doty. "A lot of them will find jobs in our system. We have a 39-month rehire list. We're going to try to fill other senior instructional assistant positions. Once a position opens, we'll call the next person on the list." The cuts officially take effect on July 1, allowing time to process incumbents while providing the mandatory 45-day notice period.
********** Published: April 14, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 52