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THOUSAND OAKS | VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS

Popular School Guard Avoids Layoff

September 24, 1997|KATE FOLMAR

A popular Thousand Oaks High School security guard--known for patrolling the far reaches of campus in a green golf cart--will keep her job, prompting exclamations of relief from students and community members.

Needing to trim her school's budget while preserving safety, Principal Jo-Ann Yoos thought that she would have to lay off Marilynn Slutske come Nov. 8 and replace her with less expensive part-timers.

On Tuesday, Yoos came up with a better alternative: keeping the veteran security guard on, but trimming her hours from 7 to 5 a day.

"We've been racking our brains trying to make sure that our security is not compromised and that we stay within our budget," Yoos said Tuesday afternoon. "We think we've come up with something that makes everyone happy."

For her part, Slutske is pleased to keep her job. All she wanted was to keep working with Thousand Oaks kids, particularly the troubled ones.

"I'm glad I'm staying at T.O.," she said. "My hours and benefits are cut some, but I'm going to be doing the same work I've loved for 11 years."

Among students, teachers and parents, the whippet-thin Slutske is known for her raspy voice, elaborately lacquered fingernails and rapport with Thousand Oaks' toughest kids.

She knows the honors students and gang members alike. She has an intuitive grasp of pre-rumble posturing, and she's not afraid to put herself in the middle of a fight.

"I'm thrilled that she'll be staying," said Thousand Oaks resident Liz McEwan, whose four grandchildren have attended the high school. "I can't believe anyone would consider letting her go. . . . She has a great rapport with the kids. I think she knows the first name of every kid at Thousand Oaks High School."

The possibility of losing Slutske, 49, in favor of part-timers had also distressed students.

"I don't know if anyone really notices the time she puts into our school," junior Sarah Krim said. "I think the crime [on campus] is a lot lower because of her."

Slutske's backers had been gearing up for a petition drive to save her job. Slutske had brought her case to Conejo Valley Unified School District trustees as well. The five-member board was scheduled to discuss the matter during a closed session at Thursday's meeting.

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