School board to consider aide layoffs again

Just one month after their jobs were saved, some South Bend aides are on the chopping block once again.

The South Bend school board could decide Monday night whether to eliminate all of the corporation’s explorer aides and no more than 50 percent of its kindergarten aides.

On Dec. 19, they voted down a similar proposal, which would have allowed Superintendent Carole Schmidt to make reductions in force to explorer aides, kindergarten aides and custodians.

According to the board’s policies, issues that have been previously presented or voted on should not be readdressed by the board for at least another year. In order to vote on aide positions again on Monday, the board will have to suspend that policy.

A suspension requires a presentation of new evidence and the votes of five board members in support of suspending the rule. If that happens, this will be the third time the board’s voted on a similar issue in less than a year.

“To me, why have a policy if anything you want to change just eliminate your policy?” said board member Bill Sniadecki. “It's like a judge suspending a traffic law for one person.”

Many aides thought the uncertainty they felt at December’s school board meeting had been eliminated.

Dozens of people spoke out against the cuts then, helping persuade the board to vote against the proposal.

“There must have been some good mind changing going on for this to come up so soon,” said a SBCSC kindergarten aide who asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job. “It’s only been four weeks.”

That’s four weeks for the board to figure out where else it could cut to help close a more than $10 million hole.

And some think the board could cut elsewhere.

“We know we are the lowest paid in the entire corporation,” the aide said. “They should start at the top and work their way down.”

Sniadecki says he agrees. He says some of the staff at the SBCSC office could be let go to help with the district’s money woes.

But those who voted in favor of the cuts in December say eliminating aides will mean teachers won’t have to be laid off anytime soon.

The proposal before the board Monday night would save South Bend schools just over $1 million in 2012 and even more in a full year.

According to the board’s policies and bylaws, the decisions they make always put children first; that’s what they plan to do when they vote on the issue.

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