SUSD board approves 4 layoffs, reduces hours of 37 employees

Saugus Union School District Asst. Sup. of Business Nick Heinlein explains analysis of the district's budget to a group of parents and staff at Bridgeport Elementary. Austin Dave/The Signal

The Saugus Union School District board of trustees approved the reduced hours for 37 positions and the layoffs of four others on Tuesday.

The board adopted and approved Resolution 2018-19 No. 55, which, according to officials, was  the result of district administrators and principals collaboratively working on their budgets with their school community, and returning with projected classified hours for the upcoming school year.

And, officials are saying that although the Saugus Union School District is expected to see a close to $3 million dip in its budget by the 2020-21 school year, Jennifer Stevenson, SUSD assistant superintendent for human resources, said this is an annual process that happens in all school districts.

“There are only two reasons for this: a lack of work or a lack of funds,” Stevenson said. “All our staffing is done based on formulas that we have.”

The SUSD had been able to avoid reductions in workforce for their teachers, or RIFs, by adopting an early retirement incentivization package, also known as SERP. A total of 82 staff had taken the offer with 37 being teachers, 2 were principals and 43 were classified staff. One of the laid-off positions was vacant for the coming year because that employee took the incentive.

However, other areas would still need to be examined and Stevenson said the decision to reduce hours for more positions, such as the 12 library media specialists or 15 instructional assistants, was based on the fact that fewer hours were needed for these positions due to declining enrollment, which, in turn, results in fewer classrooms — and the number of classrooms would justify the number of hours needed per position.

“Every classroom gets the same amount of money, but fewer classrooms means we can’t give those people the same number of hours,” said Stevenson. “Hours are given to them based on how many classrooms they serve.”

Some positions that are being laid off such as the planning/enrollment/attendance technician was an unfilled vacancy and therefore the position was taken off the books, while the warehouse job was given the same treatment, because that employee is retiring at the end of this year and the district does not plan to hire a replacement, Stevenson said.

“We’re reorganizing positions,” said Stevenson. “These are the natural changes all businesses go through.”

A spokesperson with the California School Employees Association, Chapter 112, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.

Laid off employees have re-employment rights prescribed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and Education Code, according to officials.

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