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Middle School Library Hours May Shrink

Capistrano Unified trustees vote to eliminate 160.5 positions held by non-teaching employees.

Hours at middle school libraries could be cut next fall if the doesn't restore some of the 160.5 non-teaching positions it eliminated at Wednesday’s meeting.

Dressed in black, about 80 school employees attended the Board of Trustees meeting to protest plans – eventually approved by the board after some wrangling – to lay off the employees to give the district maximum flexibility as it tries to close for the 2012-13 year.

“We are asking you to reconsider laying off middle school library media technicians,” said Barbara Luton, a 25-year CUSD employee and the library/media technician for in San Juan Capistrano.

The library is not only a place to support the work teachers do in the classroom, it serves as a “safe haven” for students, Luton said.

“The library is a safe place to go to stay out of gangs and away from bullies,” she said. It’s a place students go to hop on the computer, play chess or do homework after school.

Not having a well-staffed library “will set up the students for failure,” Luton said.

Linda Myers, an instructional materials specialist for the district, said she was worried for the collections if the library is open fewer hours with a reduced staff.

“What will happen with these wonderful collections when there is no one around to watch over them,” she asked.

The nonteaching employees, called classified employees, who spoke acknowledged that the district is facing tough times. Kim Jensen, who works at the library at , drew applause when she said she would prefer pay cuts over staff reductions.

“We’re all stressed out to the max … layoffs should be the last resort,” she said. “What if everybody took a small pay cut. Everybody to the very top? Could it be that simple?”

Trustee Lynn Hatton was moved by the pleas and said she would be willing to save campus supervisors and library technicians. After some discussion, she reduced her save list to the middle school library techs because their elimination was the only one that would mean reduced services.

To preserve the middle school librarians, the district would have had to find about $256,000 elsewhere in the budget to cut, said Jodee Brentlinger, assistant superintendent of personnel services.

However, the motion failed, with trustees Ellen Addonizio, John Alpay, Jack Brick and Sue Palazzo voting against. The board then passed on a 4-3 vote (with Hatton, Addonizio and Palazzo opposed) to send all the layoff notices staff recommended.

Addonizio and Palazzo criticized the district’s efforts to tackle the multimillion-dollar shortfall. Addonizio said the district appeared to be “lurching" from one item to the next without a plan or a budget workshop that she previously requested.

But Superintendent Joseph Farley and other trustees took great exception to that characterization, saying the board had discussed the financial crisis in detail and articulated a plan in closed sessions.

In other news, the trustees:

  • Approved a $75-million short-term loan to help CUSD stay solvent because tax revenues don’t flow into district coffers at an even rate
  • Settled an “informal dispute resolution case” for an amount not to exceed $75,000 (the item was handled in closed session and no other details were made public)
  • Accepted a proposal from the teachers’ union, Capistrano Unified Education Association, to renegotiate limits on meeting hours, the school calendar, decreasing the number of duties elementary teachers perform and changing spring parent conferences
  • Approved new books for the district’s pilot forensic science classes, which are available to 11th and 12th graders at .
cusd mom April 26, 2012 at 06:03 PM
The nonteaching employees, called classified employees, who spoke acknowledged that the district is facing tough times. Kim Jensen, who works at the library at San Juan Hills High, drew applause when she said she would prefer pay cuts over staff reductions. Are the unions listening to their people?
mayo gubbins April 26, 2012 at 08:37 PM
The problem won't be solved with pay cuts. Contact Mimi Waters and Harkey and ask them why CUSD receives $1,000 per student less than the state average. $1,000 times the 56,000 students equals $56 milllion and the problems are solved. This isn't about how the district is run; it's about the lack of funding from the state.
Daniel Foster April 26, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Go ahead and reread the book "1984". You'll see just how right Orwell was. Just not about the date.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 09:01 PM
We're down to about 50,000, with the ADA being less. The district is experiencing declining enrollment.
Capo Parent April 27, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Penny According to Farley & the other trustees except Sue and Ellen, the board had discussed the financial crisis in detail and articulated a plan in closed sessions. It appears Farley and the other board members are admitting to Brown Act violations since budget discussions are not matters that can be discussed in closed session. It also appears that in response to the need for CUSD to cut $33 to $53 million, the teachers union wants more time off for teachers and for teachers to have less duties. It looks like at this time that the best case for tax revenues for CA in April will be roughly $2 billion Short of Moonbeam's budget projection. That will mean 4 months in a row that the revenue projections of Moonbeam and the Democrats will be way off. The May revise will be brutual. One gets the impression that Moonbeam and the Democrats are running CA into the ground in order to scare the public into voting for higher taxes. Let's hope the public is smart enough not to get duped again into voting for higher taxes on a temporary basis, Remenber the temporary taxes pushed by Arnie and the Democrats, and the BS claim that the taxes would be temporary and would solve the budget deficit. The taxes didn't solve the budget deficit and Arnie & the Democrats wanted to extend the taxes. Thankfully, the public wokeup and realized it was being fleeced.
randy April 27, 2012 at 05:04 PM
http://toped.svefoundation.org/2012/04/17/buck-up-california-and-learn-from-rhode-islands-big-pension-reforms/
Capo Parent April 27, 2012 at 09:21 PM
May revise will be brutal http://www.sacbee.com/2012/04/26/4443308/weak-tax-revenue-to-increase-california.html#dsq-comments Maybe the Moonbeam & the Democrats will actually start honestly estimating future revenue. Nah, lying and claiming a balanced budget is much easier and results in the legislature getting paid. What a joke CA has become.
randy April 28, 2012 at 12:03 AM
Austerity? Kids cannot be the first on the chopping block. Rhode Islanders retirees are on the first block to mitigate debt. Cut their benefits and use them for the kids and teachers. Math can be weird.
Amy Hagerman April 30, 2012 at 02:05 PM
If all the parents in the world were as perfect as you project yourself to be there may not be a need for a library setting to keep them safe. Unfortunately, all parents aren't and there is a need!
Amy Hagerman April 30, 2012 at 02:07 PM
You sure have a strong opinion about this issue, but I notice you aren't willing to put your name on your posts...interesting

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