LORAIN — The school board on Monday eliminated 101 non-teaching jobs — the latest in a series of cuts designed to bring the district’s budget back into the black.
The vote — initially scheduled for a special meeting Friday — was delayed until Monday when officials realized the board’s agenda had not been made public 24 hours before the meeting as is required by the law.
School board member Dina Ferrer cast the lone “no” vote Monday. Voting for the layoffs were Keith Lilly, Cynthia Miller and Raul Ramos. Board President Jeanine Donaldson was absent.
Ferrer said she was both troubled and confused about how Superintendent Dee Morgan and her staff selected the workers to be laid off. She said she heard one nonunion worker at the Charleston Administrative Center was transferred to another office in the district.
“How can we replace one person with another?” Ferrer asked. “I feel we’re safeguarding certain jobs and handpicking people.”
Morgan, however, said that wasn’t the case — she said what Ferrer might have heard is that some people at the Digital Academy were replaced with people with more seniority.
Ferrer said she still felt more clarification was needed on how the administration was determining who would be laid off and her comment prompted the first real public discussion by the school board about the massive cuts that have been ongoing since the district’s treasurer determined the district would be in the red $4.75 million by the end of June without severe cutbacks.
“These people are the bottom of the seniority list,” Lilly explaining how the cuts were done.
Board member Cynthia Miller, meanwhile, took issue with eliminating full-time nurses at the schools.
“If something happens to a child, I’m concerned that someone who is trained will be there,” Miller said.
Miller also said she had a problem that a majority of non-teaching workers being laid off were among the lowest paid employees in the district.
“I think more concessions need to be made at a higher level,” Miller said.
Despite her concerns, Miller voted for the layoffs. Her vote was greeted with jeers from the crowd of about 100 people who attended the meeting.
Ferrer also noted before the vote was taken that the layoff list contains only five people in administrative positions.
Ferrer said it would seem that with so many fewer employees, there would be a need for fewer people to oversee staff.
“This is an ongoing process. This is one step along the way,” board member Raul Ramos told Ferrer. “We’re not done yet. There are still other things to take care of. If something happens, we’re trying to bring back fine arts.”
Ramos, however, did not elaborate on the district’s next steps.
Ferrer also asked Morgan if the new superintendent, Cheryl Atkinson, had been involved during the district’s employee downsizing. Morgan said Atkinson was in town and had been involved.
“I think it would be important for her to attend these meetings,” Ferrer said.
Atkinson, who succeeds Morgan on Aug. 1, has not attended the school board meetings.
The board also listened to about a dozen parents, students and former district employees who expressed their anger at the board over the layoffs and pleaded with them to reinstate certain teachers and programs.
Contact Bette Pearce at 329-7148 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Lorain school board
WHEN: 6 p.m. July 16 WHERE: Frank Jacinto Elementary School.
Steve Manheim/ Chronicle
Audience members react to the board members at Lorain City School board meeting.