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Hart district lays off 5 more

Move saves more than $455,000; employees ask that decision be delayed until November bond vote

Posted: July 18, 2008 1:23 a.m.
Updated: September 18, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
There were pleas. There were tears. In the end, Hart district officials decided to save a little more than $450,000 by eliminating five jobs.

The William S. Hart Union High School District board voted unanimously Wednesday to eliminate five classified positions from the facilities department.

Terri Shiner, director of classified personnel for the Hart district, cited declining developer fees, which had been used to pay the employees’ salaries, as a reason for the layoffs.

Eliminating the positions of an intermediate account clerk, an administrative assistant, a district buyer and two contract administrators will save the district approximately $455,270, she said.

“All of the classified employees, except for one, will be able to find another placement in the district,” Shiner said.

Contract administrator Diane Lemasters, whose job was on the list of those to be eliminated, asked the board to wait until the state budget has been approved and the bond election results are known to make the decision.

“Our work is not exclusive to bond-funded projects. Why, then, should our salaries rely solely upon developer fees?” the 15-year district employee asked the board. “Furthermore, it’s contradictory to eliminate the district’s support staff when the district has hired multiple consultant firms and attorneys to engage a $300 million bond measure to fund construction projects.”

Melissa Kalous, the other contract administrator whose job is being eliminated, and the one employee for whom another placement in the district has not been found, said that while she acknowledges the district’s current fiscal restraints, she feels her job is important.

“As contract administrators for this district, Diane and I process all contracts for the facilities department,” Kalous said. “To eliminate our positions would leave the district unprotected.”

Strickland asked Shiner if there was any way Kalous could be retrained to perform another job for the district.

“For us to allow one person to lose their job, and not find something for them to do, I feel that is wrong,” Strickland said.

Shiner said that the layoffs do not take effect until Sept. 30, so a position may become available.
“Right now we don’t have an overabundance of vacancies,” Shiner said.

Hart district Superintendent Jaime Castellanos said the district may be able to restore the eliminated positions down the road if development in the area increases.

“I realize that doesn’t make them feel any better tonight,” he said.

In the end, the board voted to eliminate the five positions, with Strickland at first abstaining from the vote, and then changing his mind and voting against the layoffs.

“(The board members) were asking so many questions and they seemed so concerned, I really thought they would wait,” Kalous said. “All that we asked was that they wait.”

Lemasters was in tears as she and Kalous left the meeting.

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