Tensions ran high Wednesday night as the Denair Unified School Board of Trustees voted to lay off more support staff.
The board unanimously voted to cut hours of 13 part-time employees and eliminate four full-time positions. District staff and union officials disagreed with both the layoffs and the lack of notification to affected employees.
“I feel embarrassed that I work for this district,” said Spanish teacher Maria Olivas. “We have paraeducators and attendance clerks learning they are losing their jobs in a board agenda. These are dedicated employees who have deserved the courtesy of being told to their face they are losing their jobs. They are human beings. What I don’t understand is how you have sacrificed your decency and professionalism. ”
The California School Employees Association released a statement prior to the meeting stating the district refused to “consider other options.”
“This is going to have a major impact in our community. Not only are our students going to suffer as a result of this management, but a quarter of our members are going to lose their jobs. And the rest are going to see their pay slashed,” said CSEA Denair Chapter President Robin Edwards in the statement. “These are people who live, work and shop in Denair. Entire families are going to be greatly impacted because some short-time district executives aren’t willing to come up with a collaborative solution. Denair students, parents and the community deserve better.”
In other action, the board unanimously approved to hire Mary Jones as deputy superintendent for instruction. DUSD interim superintendent Walt Hanline made the recommendation to appoint Jones, as they both worked for Ceres Unified in previous years.
In a 3-2 vote, with Trustee Julian Wren and Board President Robert Hodges dissenting, the district chose to hire a part-time chief business official to work three days a week at a cost of $110 an hour. The CBO will cost the district an additional $11,000 a month, exceeding the previous full-time CBO annual compensation by nearly $50,000.
“The district can save more money by hiring a local person rather than paying more money to bring someone from the outside,” said Wren.
Wren resigned from the board, effective June 14, as he is moving out of the district. Wren’s seat will remain vacant until elections take place in November.