Hart district board to consider layoffs  

The William S. Hart Union High School District office
The William S. Hart Union High School District office
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The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board is set to discuss layoffs and possible eliminations and reductions of services during the board’s meeting Wednesday. 

According to the governing board agenda, there is a staff recommendation to adopt resolutions for the 2024-25 school year that call for potential layoffs of approximately 80 employees, based on seniority. The resolutions indicate the district hopes to achieve some of the reductions through retirements and attrition. 

The resolutions would meet a statutory deadline for the district to notify employees of the possibility of layoffs. 

“The requirement to identify potential staff reductions by March 15 will result in a larger number of reduction-in-force notices issued than might ultimately be applied. This understandably causes considerable stress and concern to affected employees. It is the hope that, as in past, retirements and attrition will mitigate the need for some of these proposed layoffs,” according to the resolutions. 

According to the resolution regarding certificated employees, total full-time equivalent reductions would be 63 positions, two of which are currently vacant. The following departments/positions could be impacted, according to the resolution:  

  • 3 FTE in Sequoia Therapeutic Special Education Program. 
  • 5 FTE in general special education teaching services. 
  • 4 FTE in science 7/8. 
  • 9 FTE in physical education. 
  • 5 FTE in math. 
  • 12 FTE in English. 
  • 12 FTE in social studies. 
  • 6 FTE in student support program specialist, two positions of which are currently vacant. 
  • 7 FTE in counselors. 

According to a separate resolution, if approved by the board, the following classified positions would be affected, with a total of 29.14 full-time equivalent: 

  • 5.14 FTE, bus assistant (extra duty assignment only).  
  • 13 FTE, school-based therapist. 
  • 4 FTE, custodian. 
  • 1 FTE, warehouse worker. 
  • 2 FTE, program specialist.  
  • 2 FTE, administrative assistant.  
  • 1 FTE, 12-month secretary.  
  • 1 FTE, groundskeeper. 

According to the resolution, bus assistants are not subject to FTE eliminations. 

“All of the bus assignment positions are being eliminated, each of the classified employees being affected by their elimination have other classified positions within the district that are not being eliminated. The 5.14 FTE layoff of bus assistants reflects the elimination of all seventeen (17) district bus assignment positions. This is a process that happens on an annual basis,” according to the resolution. 

Responding to talk on social media, board member Joe Messina said he was sorry to see the district’s financial situation get to the point where it’s at, but state budget cuts have made the discussion necessary.  

“I see on social media people are saying it’s a bargaining tactic, but there’s a reality to finance,” Messina said. “The state has cut funding. (The state’s cost-of-living increase) has dropped below 1%, the district’s expenses have also gone up,” he said. “I wish we had other options.” 

According to John Minkus, president of the Hart District Teachers Association, it’s important to note the reduction-in-force notices and the stalled negotiations are separate issues, “but both are the result of poor planning and questionable decision-making by the Hart District administration,” he wrote in an email Monday evening.  

“The current situation is not where we should find ourselves, and we urge for a reevaluation of the decisions that led us here,” he said, adding the union has been emphasizing the importance of the district adhering to its contractual staff ratios for the year.   

Employees who may be directly impacted will be notified by March 15, according to the district. In addition, the reduction-in-force notices received by current employees affected will likely result in more notices sent than will be applied.  

According to the district’s fiscal stabilization plan finalized in January, personnel cost reductions could result in $21 million in savings. An earlier statement provided by Superintendent Mike Kuhlman said staffing comprises about 80% to 85% of the district’s budget.  

Any employees affected by layoffs will be put on a 39-month reemployment list and receive priority once any positions reopen, according to district staff. 

The board meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the district office, 21380 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita. The meeting can also be viewed online at youtube.com/live/bPBTeeBAp0w. 

Senior Staff Writer Perry Smith contributed to this report.

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