School Board to Vote on Eliminating 53 Instructional Aides, Could be First of Wave of Cuts

Move is first of many expected budget cuts; ‘It’s going to be a bloody season,’ says Board of education Member Scott Phelps

Published : Thursday, December 7, 2017 | 6:29 AM


Following through on what are expected to be numerous and various cuts in its current budget, the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD) Board will vote Thursday on the elimination of 53 special education classified school instructional aides to take effect February 6, 2018.

According to PUSD Board Resolution No. 2432, “Due to a lack of work and/or lack of funds, certain services now being provided by the district must be eliminated for the current school year.”

Explaining the proposed elimination of the aide positions, Associate Superintendent Hilda Ramirez Horvath did not mention finances as the cause of the job cuts.

“Fifty-three instructional aide positions will be eliminated,” she continued, “as the district increases efficiencies in the delivery of services provided to students with disabilities.”

However, School Board Member Scott Phelps attributed the cuts to the District’s deficit.

“This is the first sign of reduction towards trying to remedy our huge deficit,” he said.

The school district is currently at a deficit of $5.7 million for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, a deficit which could grow to $10 to $12 million in future years, as rising pension costs begin to account for more than a third of proposed increases to next year’s state education budget.

“This is the first real reduction that has been brought to us,” said PUSD Board Member Scott Phelps. Phelps explained that the board passed a resolution in August which asked for $15 million in reductions to be presented to the District by January in time to be implemented for the spring semester.

According to Phelps, PUSD has always had “very good, high numbers of aides,” and “I believe this is the historical phenomenon that results when we have a community which wants more special ed services, and there’s a lot of parents who want more special ed services. And so after many, many years, [the result] has been that we have increased our level of aides far above the ratio in other school districts. So we’ve started a long overdue test to bring our staffing more inclined with other districts.”

Phelp pulled no punches in describing the current PUSD situation, saying, “The bigger picture is that we have to cut everything that we can. We have to cut everything. This is just one example, we have $15 million [to cut]. We’ve never cut this much, ever. This is not the only thing we’re cutting. We’re going to have to cut administration [also].”

Phelps also noted that the district will also have to make cuts in transportation. Said Phelps, “We’re going to have to cut transportation, which is called ‘optional transportation,’ but not Special Ed transportation. Special Ed is mandated transportation. That’s called ‘Door to Door’ like, door to school from the home to the school.”

Phelps added, “We probably bus (roughly) 400 regular students or so covering many out of the 16,000 total. But that costs us half a million dollars to $700,000 a year. So we should cut that, too. We should cut administration. We should cut aides, we should close schools. $15 million is a big sum of money. It’s going to be a bloody season.”

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