Moon Support Staffers Cry Foul at Staffing Cuts
One day before a jobs bidding meeting, district support staffers confront Moon Area School Board over staffing cuts.
Susan White, a Moon Area School District secretary, pleaded with members of the district's school board to rethink a series of staffing reductions that she said may cost her job.
"We have dedicated ourselves to this district," White said. "We have poured our hearts and souls into these positions. And what you're doing is a shame."
Support staff union members attended the board's Monday night meeting to protest the district's decision to cut 52 support staffers for the upcoming school year.
The school board approved the furloughs in June. District support staff members will attend a meeting at 3 p.m. today to bid on 49 of the positions that have been re-opened for hire, though many at reduced hours.
"I'm begging you to reconsider," White said.
The board, which met in executive session prior to the meeting to discuss the furloughs, unanimously approved a series of unspecified items listed as personnel issues at the meeting.
Local union president Blaine Hess said he received word that four special education assistant positions had been recalled from furloughs.
Hess said the union was hoping to learn whether the board would move to outsource custodial positions that become vacant from attrition to non-union members.
Board president Sandra McCurdy said she could not comment on personnel matters.
Hess said the union plans to file an unfair labor relations complaint against the district if it outsources the custodial positions. The Pennsylvania Education Association was considering pressing the charge in July, but Hess said they opted to continue negotiating with the district.
"It all comes down to tonight," Hess said before the meeting. "If they vote no, then we're going to move forward."
Support staffers, many wearing red and clutching signs, filled the board's meeting room and several took to the microphone to address the board directly. One parent worried that her son, who is a special education student, may not have paraprofessional assistance when he returns to the classroom this fall.
Board members said paraprofessionals will be provided for all students who require one.
Board members said rising legacy and health care costs made the cuts necessary. The staffing revisions will save the district $425,000 in the upcoming school year, according to the district's figures.
Board members said growing costs might require tax hikes in the coming years.
Union members criticized the district for laying off workers when it has a $3 million fund balance.
"Yes, our fund balance did grow last year," said board member Jerry Testa. "But when we do projections and look at it five years in, it's a very scary story. We're looking at being in a deficit situation even with raising taxes to the maximum."
"The buck stops here," board member Samuel Tranter said to the staff members. "This is not easy. It's not an easy job or an easy decision."