Thursday, April 14, 2011

Easton Area School District Proposes 160 Jobs to Cut to Balance Budget

Posted by: Noël Jones

I will, for the most part, let these numbers speak for themselves. But I don't understand why almost $15 million has been proposed when the gap is only $12.9 million. Now, before any snarkies say "Noël, you call for cuts and then you don't like it when cuts are proposed!" I have to ask--why are no administrators being cut? I see athletics being cut at the end, but no coaches positions listed--are any included in that amount? Where are the construction project cuts? Where is the audit of Sodexo to see if they have defrauded us as they have districts in NY, NJ and Ohio (all states that border us)? Below is the list of cuts in each category of employees and the money that will be saved with each batch of cuts, and here is the Express-Times article covering yesterday's budget meeting. The only good news is that apparently the teachers' union and the administration are in ongoing talks and hopefully will come to a less painful conclusion than this:


Elementary Schools (Gr. K - 4)
K - 4 Learning Support Classroom Teachers 
School Counselors 
Instructional Support Teachers (IST) 
Math Interventionists
Reading Interventionists 
Full-Day Kindergarten 
Half-Day Kindergarten 
Elementary Instrumental Music

-44 jobs saves ($3,432,000)

Easton Area Middle School (Gr. 5 - 8)
Learning Support (7/8) 
School Counselors 
Social Studies (7/8) 
Science (7/8)
Math (7/8) 
Reading (7/8) 
English (7/8) 
READ 180 (7/8) 
Italian (w/EAHS
French German 
Learning Support (5/6) 
Math (5/6)
Reading (5/6) 
PSSA Reading 
PSSA Math 
Health & PE (5/6) 
Math Specialists (5/6) 
EAMS Music

-47 jobs saves ($3,666,000)

Easton Area High School (Gr. 9 - 12)
Learning Support 
School Counselors 
READ 180 
Health & PE
Music Art 

Latin 1 
French 2 
Media Studies

-50 jobs saves 

ESL Teacher (Districtwide) 
Alternative Education (EAA) 
Easton Area Library  

Athletics & Extra-Curricular Activities  

-19 jobs saves 

Total cuts = $14,980,000


Jane S said...

Hey Noel,

It's pretty obscene, isn't it? Get this, the EASD is self insured. That means it needs to pay 55% of a laid off employee's salary in unemployment. They're not saving anywhere near $15 million in this! When they cut 72 last year, they only saved $2 million at most, plus they lost all the money they paid in tuition to help those teachers get their masters degrees.

I think, at this point, they need to take the teachers pay freeze for next year, (which saves them a lot more than they would by cutting 160 jobs) and both sides need to sit down and agree to fix that contract. They can't keep letting this happen every single year.

noel jones said...

If that is true, then that would mean that the district would have to pay $8.25 million in unemployment--does anyone have a link to verify this?

Let's not forget that the district has offered a deal that would fire no teachers, but take two years off the end of their contract, so that it would be renegotiated sooner. The contract was negotiated just before the bubble burst on this economy, and we have been in the second worst depression our country has ever seen ever since with guaranteed raises averaging 12.7% each year.

I appreciate that the teachers have agreed to a pay freeze for one year, and to give up tuition reimbursement for pursuing masters degrees, but the union's contingency of extending this unsustainable contract another year wipes out any savings that those concessions would offer.

It's time for a new contract, for the good of the entire community--the taxpayers, the students AND the teachers. We're all in this together.

Anonymous said...

So now they want to eliminate the most successful program in the district ---- The Academy. This is a progressive idea for our district -- maybe the only one. It takes the severely underachiever, behavior child, or excessive absentee student and places them in an alternative school. (the district paid a lot on acquisition and remodeling) and places them in an environment where these 18 teachers can spend the time to make a difference.

Eliminating the school places them back in the main high school with less teachers. This is a recipe for disaster.

BullVon said...

This would be comical if it was not so sad. The EASD wants to close the Academy, which cost an untold sum to start up, and move these troubled students to EAHS, where they want to drastically cut staffing, specifically in the areas these kids need most.

For most families, the end of all day kindergarten will be a difficult hardship, both for the parents, and the children, especially those kids who need extra help in getting started in specific areas, such as reading and math that can be corrected easier if identified early.

The teachers association opened their negotiations with a proposal. Now it's time for the District to evaluate the proposal and offer a counter-proposal. Maybe it's time to keep the School Busses another year or two before replacement. Cut the grass every 10 days instead of every 7. Or the holy grail; how about the administration making ANY pay or staffing concessions.?

peterkc said...

As we know from last year, it is illegal to lay off teachers to balance the budget. Save these articles and remind the board at every meeting that it is illegal. And if they ask the state for approval, deluge the state with board minutes and news articles that make it absolutely clear that they are laying off teachers to balance the budget.

noel jones said...

BullVon, to be clear, the administration has already volunteered for a wage-freeze, and they have already put off buying new buses for a year. This was covered in earlier posts and articles. But what they have not done is to propose cutting any administrative staff, when there are multiple principals at multiple schools in the district.

They have also not initiated an audit of Sodexo to investigate them for fraud, when they have settled for millions in three states that border us.

The district has, however, put a deal on the table that would fire no teachers, but end the contract two years early--and the teachers need to seriously consider that, for the sake of the teachers whose jobs would be saved...

noel jones said...

peterkc--the state approved the firing of 72 teachers last year when it was also clearly for budget reasons. there seems to be a sort of winking at the law going on through the PA Dept. of Ed, as if to say, "we get it, we know this law is too restrictive, so we agree--you're doing it for alignment and the betterment of education in your schools." the EASD was given a pass last year, and they feel confident they will be given a pass this year, or they wouldn't be proposing and additional 160 teacher firings.

but none of these teachers need get fired, if they just agree to end their contract early as the administration has proposed.

Jane S said...


The teachers have offered to rework their contract, too. It's not "just" a salary freeze. The freeze is the start, and an agreement to rework the contract follows immediately.