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TUSD reinstates Head Start preschool employees

POSTED May 27, 2011 7:58 p.m.

Head Start Pre-school teacher aides and family service workers will likely be reinstated at a June 7 Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting.
On May 6, eight teacher aides and four family service workers were told they were being laid off and their last paycheck would come at the end of this month. The layoffs had come in an effort to reduce Head Start budget spending on salaries and benefits. Currently 97 percent of the Head Start budget is spent on salaries, but TUSD officials wanted to reduce that number to 89 percent in order to keep the program running.
Head Start is a free, federally-funded program that serves low-income or at-risk children ages three to five years old. Nearly 160 children are served through Head Start programs in Turlock.
Human Resources manager Heidi Lawler confirmed that the Classified School Employee Association approved an agreement with TUSD to reinstate the classified employees at reduced days of work, and in turn reduced salaries.
Teacher aides' total workdays per year will be reduced from 180 to 176 starting in the 2011/2012 school year. Family service workers, which help low-income families find avenues of financial and educational assistance will be reduced from 180 days at seven hours a day to 176 days at six hours a day. The reduction for the family service workers will take place over the next two school years.
"The board wanted to reduce their hours over two years because it will lessen the dramatic impact," explained Lawler.
Thelma Tovar, a teacher aide at Cunningham Elementary's Head Start program, was relieved with the news her job will likely be reinstated.
"I'm really happy with it, I have a family and it was such a shock to me when they told me I was going to be laid off. Now I'm getting less pay but it's better than zero pay. I've been with Head Start for 14 years and I love my job and working with the kids, I'm just so happy I still have it," she said.
Lawler said similar negotiations will likely take place for state preschool classified staff over the summer months. State preschool teacher aides were also laid off in recent weeks.
To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail jmccorkell@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141, ext 2015.

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