State

140 layoff warnings bound for nonteachers

Modesto City Schools proposes to issue an additional 140 layoff notices this spring to nonteaching personnel.

The district acknowledged Monday that it has notified the California School Employees Association of its layoff plans. That union represents nearly 1,300 teacher aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, secretaries, maintenance and custodial workers, and campus security staff members.

Unlike teachers, who must be notified by March 15 if there's a chance their jobs will be eliminated, 45 days' notice is required for nonteaching employees.

Chris Flesuras, the district's top human resources official, said school board trustees will be asked to approve the layoff notices April 19 or May 11. The layoffs are planned for July 1, unless the district's funding situation improves.

Modesto City Schools anticipates needing to slash $25 million, or about 10 percent, from its budget. That's because its enrollment is declining and per-student allocations from the state are shrinking as a result of dwindling sales, property and income tax revenues.

The district has proposed its employees take 16 percent pay cuts, including seven furlough days.

If the unions don't agree to those salary reductions, the district has told 517 teachers and now 140 other nonmanagement employees that they may be out of a job.

"I find this appalling and ridiculous," said Aaron Castro, the CSEA president. He said the proposed layoffs would eliminate nearly 11 percent of union members' jobs.

The district's management, Castro calculated, plans to eliminate only about 4 percent of the administrators.

Castro said his union members don't think it's fair for their relatively low wages to be reduced.

"Our members say they would not be able to put food on their table, make their mortgage or pay their rent if their pay is cut that much," he said.

The lowest paid cafeteria workers earn $9.68 per hour, and most of the union's members earn less than $14 an hour, according to Castro. Many of those workers are part-time employees who do not qualify for health benefits.

Modesto City Schools' teachers, by contrast, earn an average $79,132 for working 185 days per year. That's $427.74 per workday.

The school district is in contract negotiations with its teaching and nonteaching unions. Its managers have not been asked to take pay cuts, but traditionally they get the same percentage increase or cut that other employees get.

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or 578-2196.

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