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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 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 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."

Louisa August 14, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Thank you school board members for looking out for the future financial well being of our school district. Tough cuts need to be made, now take the same action with the administration!
Helen August 14, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Regarding kids with special needs, please go to Bill: PPACA; Page2,388-2,389 of the Affordable Healthcare Act. (Obamacare) Flexible Spending Account Cap - aka "Special Needs Kids Tax). The tax hike of $13billion takes effect January 2013. It imposes cap on FSAs of $2500 (now unlimited). Indexed to inflation after 2013. I am quoting from ATR.org (Americans for Tax Reform). Good job school board.
Furloughed Employee August 19, 2012 at 12:17 AM
I would like the community to understand that there were many areas in which the school board could have made cuts which would have not had the detrimental impact on student services these support personnel furloughs and subsequent cut in working hours will bring. The community should also be aware that many of the employees who will be unable to make ends meet after dedicating a lifetime to MASD are within a few years of normal retirement. In a few years, the legacy costs to the district would have been lessened as these employees would have retired.
Shy August 23, 2012 at 03:51 AM
Yeah, good job school board. Stick it to the lowest paid group of employees and keep giving the administration raises, bonuses and don't make them pay more for insurance. You people don't have a clue what is really going on. You just don't take the time to care. All you want to do is trash school district employees. They are what makes the system work.
Furloughed Employee August 23, 2012 at 09:58 PM
I was furloughed, no pay this summer. Yet I got phone calls at home from a handful of students who needed help.....and I helped. I did my job, even though no administrator or school board member would ever know. I simply did the right thing. I'm not the only member of the support union who gives more of themselves to students than is required. I just saw a report that documented the shrinking middle class in this country. At the end of last school year, I was just barely middle class. With the cut in my pay I'm facing this year, I'm officially a member of the "working poor" class. Instead of working hard and being able to "pay my own way" in the world, I, along with many of my remaining co-workers, may need to become a drag on the system by applying and qualifying for subsidies for food, heating bills, etc.....and qualify we will, even while working 5 days a week. That's how devastating this situation is. The school board thinks they are avoiding a tax hike "someday" by cutting employees. That may be true on a local level, but I'm predicting state and federal tax hikes in order to help fund the increased numbers of people needing help to feed themselves.
moon mom 1013 August 28, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I am not a furloughed employee here at MASD but I have been in their shoes. I think this is horrible.........lets build a brand new beautiful school and then screw with all of the employees that have dedicated their time to these students. We will get rid of all of their hours/benefits and outsourse their jobs. And we are talking minimal salaried jobs. You are messing with families in our community, not to mention our students. For you board members that are lliving your life (out of reality) in luxury in the most expensive houses in moon, I hope you can sleep at night. It starts with outsourcing these jobs, you are taking money out of Moon and putting it in other communities. Look what happened to Moon's economy when USAir pulled out of here......

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