District seeks cuts, authorizes position lay-offs

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Ben Dahan News Editor

In an attempt to cut costs, the district is pursuing a staff reorganization strategy which thus far has resulted in the laying-off of 12 non-teaching positions.

The positions the board unanimously voted to cut include seven lead custodians, one lead groundskeeper, one currently vacant security position and two managers. Even though the positions and titles are being eliminated, these employees are entitled to, and expectedly will, keep their jobs, likely with a salary cut and shifted responsibilities.

“While these are technically layoffs, nobody is actually losing their jobs,” Director of Human Resources Luke Pavone said. “All that it is is layoffs in title. So it does involve a potential loss of salary, but that all has to be negotiated with the Classified Staff Education Association (CSEA).”

The CSEA, the union which eight of the employees whose positions have been cut belong to, maintains that the decision will be detrimental to the district. Neither high school principal Mark Mead nor head of Maintenance and Operations Gino Garcia were consulted before the decision was made.

“The CSEA objects to this strategy as it will leave all five campuses hindered in workflow issues and create major holes in how work is completed each day,” Coleen Davenport, Vice President of the CSEA, said.

There is contention with the usage of the word “lead” in the position titles of eight maintenance employees, such as the lead site custodians at each of the K-8 schools. Though they are not technically management, the holders of such positions are intended to give direction to their colleagues.

In addition to changes made in the staffing of the Maintenance and Operations, the controversial, recently added job of Director of Communications, held by former local news anchor Laura Skirde, has been eliminated.

“While [Skirde] is, of course, upset, she understands that we are facing some budgetary issues and that a lot of time new positions are the first ones to go. I really feel she had a lot of impact this year and that communication was really great with the community,” Pavone said. “She really did a great job helping the cabinet get information out this year, and worked with all the schools and the city of Beverly Hills. It is unfortunate.”

According to Pavone, if the school board had implemented the reconfiguration plan pushed by the district administration, the district’s budget would possibly not need such drastic cuts

“If something happened [with reconfiguration] there’s the potential that we wouldn’t need to make these budget cuts,” Pavone said. “Because nothing was reduced in our budget, we have to look at everything. Now we’re looking at all different positions, our next step is seeing if we need to cut programming for next year. We don’t want to do that, but our concerns are what happens if we don’t make these reductions?”

According Pavone, the district administration is always on the lookout to cut costs, and there may be more personnel changes to come.

“At the moment, we haven’t identified other positions to [to eliminate], but it’s an ongoing conversation, though,” Pavone said. “It’s always right in front of us.”

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