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Education: : Union Asks Alternatives to Layoffs Be Examined

January 20, 1994

District employees abhor that shots were fired at the school board meeting on the evening of Dec. 14. It was a despicable act that worked against the best interests of the children, staff and community of the Compton Unified School District. And the shots undermined the efforts of employee associations and other organizations to peacefully address our very serious concerns to the school system's state-appointed administrator.

Even a cursory look at the latest proposal to lay off 111 employees shows it to be ill-conceived and far from the mark. These employees, known as the classified staff, include custodians, teacher aides, bus drivers, clerks and cafeteria workers.

Classified staff--both in and out of the classroom--have been hit hard by two previous layoffs. A significant number of instructional aides have been cut from the classrooms. Large numbers of employees have had their work year reduced. And the construction and repair department has been severely slashed.

Further cuts of the magnitude proposed will cripple the district's ability to function on a day-to-day basis and that will directly harm children's education.

Moreover, because classified employees, by and large, reside in or near Compton, these layoffs will have a devastating effect on the community, including the families of many local students.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on high-priced consultants and outside audits. None of this would be so bad except that these consultants and auditors have not done what they're being paid to do. And that is to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to reconstruct the Compton school district.

While these consultants propose layoffs, they are unable to show how these layoffs will bring about financial solvency, or say when the cuts will end.

The consultants also want employees to absorb a walloping 8-10% pay cut in February or March. Again, when asked how employees making $14,000 to $25,000 per year are going to absorb an 8-10% income loss, no one has an answer. With layoffs and/or pay cuts looming, the wonder is that the spirit and dedication of the employees hasn't collapsed entirely. Amazingly, most workers are completely dedicated to the well-being of Compton's children.

The California School Employees Assn., which represents most of the district's classified employees, has already suggested some alternatives that accomplish many of the same financial objectives that the district's consultants have outlined. The alternatives include ideas like furlough days, which have been successful in many other districts. These alternatives are far less onerous to employees than layoffs and pay cuts.

In addition, Compton Mayor Omar Bradley has offered financial assistance to the school district. This proposal should be fully explored. The district also needs to do more to cut expenses in key areas, such as legal expenses, which consumed $828,000 last year, and vandalism, which cost $2.16 million. Employees are still waiting for a real chance to work with district administrators on plans to cut costs.

The association and district employees hope that the recently selected new state administrator, Dr. Jerome Harris, will find answers to these very difficult questions. We pledge to work with Dr. Harris to find those answers. We recognize that nothing less than the educational, social and economic health of Compton's children are at risk.


Labor Relations Representative



Compton Unified Chapter 30



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