OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish School Board voted 10-1 on Monday to temporarily revise the district’s reduction in personnel policy so the system’s support workers have the same opportunity as certified personnel to apply for positions they previously held if they are laid off.
Support staff are in positions such as secretaries, cafeteria workers, janitors and bus drivers, whereas certified personnel hold positions as classroom teachers, administrators and others in charge of educating children.
Supervisor of child welfare and attendance Edward Brown, who oversees the district’s policy manual, said the board is suspending its current policy for an indefinite period to allow support workers a chance to move to previous jobs for which they are qualified.
On May 3 the board rejected a list of names that a reduction in force committee under the direction of acting Superintendent Joseph Cassimere recommended for layoffs.
At that meeting some board members complained that support workers under the current policy might not be allowed the same chance as certified personnel to take another position based on seniority, said board attorney Gerard Caswell.
Caswell said a change in the personnel reduction policy is needed to accomplish what he termed “a level playing field” for all categories of employees.
“In this case, under the current policy, the certified people were being treated differently because they could bump down to their last position, while the support people couldn’t,” Caswell said.
The board has discussed the personnel layoff issue for several months, after the state Department of Education and state Legislative Auditor’s Office told the district it needs to develop a financial strategy to deal with a projected budget deficit of $3.9 million by the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
Part of the district’s financial plan is the proposed layoff of 182 workers in specified job categories that include retired educators who have been hired back as teachers, as well as teachers who have not obtained certification, nurses, maintenance workers, secretaries and other support employees.
Finance Director Tressa Miller told the board that her projections indicate the district could save $6.7 million if 182 employees are laid off.
Caswell told the board on Monday that he is satisfied that Monday’s policy revision is now fair to all levels of employees.
Voting in favor of the revised reduction personnel policy were Anthony Standberry, Charles Ross, John Miller, Raymond Cassimere, Candace Gerace, Huey Wyble, Scott Richard, Roger Young, Josie Frank and Kyle Boss.
Quincy Richard voted “no.”