Flint School Board votes to lay off all non-instructional staff members
By Andrew Keller, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
FLINT, MI (WNEM) -
More jobs are on the chopping block in a local school district as leaders face a $10 million budget deficit.
On Wednesday night, the Flint School Board approved a slew of staff layoffs, but they are holding off on some other possible ways to save money.
"We are the backbone of each building," Gidget Arcand, a library media clerk in Flint's Freeman Elementary, told school board members during public comment.
Arcand spoke for nearly 250 others in a last ditch effort to save their jobs.
"You all are far too removed from the building level to understand what it feels like to have a daily impact on a student's education, and this is how you repay us, by laying us off? Shame on you," Arcand said.
But as the Flint School Board continues its work to chop away at its deficit, on Wednesday night, board members voted to lay off all non-instructional staff. That includes clerical, maintenance, secretaries, food service and school safety employees.
It's a move that school Interim Superintendent Larry Watkins said is a part of the district's deficit elimination plan thatwill save the district $5 million.
"Do we compromise anything else outside of the deficit elimination plan by not passing this?" board president Isaiah Oliver asked Watkins during the meeting.
"We compromise a state takeover," Watkins responded.
Watkins told board members the district is currently searching for a company to assume the duties of those positions cut Wednesday night. He said those laid off will have the opportunity to apply with the outsourcing company.
"With the third party, the district will write the job description and set the salary and pass that on to the third party," said Watkins.
This is a decision that's undoubtedly a tough pill to swallow for those who lost their jobs. But it's one that some say they understand had to be done.
"There's going to be a struggle, and they're doing everything they can think of at this point. We've got really good leadership now, and I believe it's going to be OK. I really do," said Deb Bassett.
Also at Wednesday night's meeting, board members decided to table a proposal that could close down Northern High School for good. The school is currently used as an alternative education building, but the proposal calls for the alternative ed to be shifted to Northwestern Academy.
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