School union has own ideas on cuts |

School union has own ideas on cuts

Staring down freight trains like layoffs and furloughs they’d rather sidestep, the union representing non-teaching staff at local high schools is offering some options of its own.

The classified employee union, which represents about 140 custodians, secretaries, maintenance and grounds workers, is urging the Nevada Joint Union High School District to consider every possible cut at its disposal to avoid laying off employees. Administrators are looking for ways to tackle a projected $2.1 million deficit in their $31 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which could include five furlough days for all district employees combined with eight teacher layoffs, five classified layoffs and one administrator layoff.

“All of that talk has everyone scared,” said Kevin Atkins, president of the local chapter of the California School Employees Association. “Employees that I have talked to have said the morale in our school is so low, it’s like a morgue.”

District officials – who were unavailable for comment Friday due to a school holiday – have estimated they could slice $500,000 from the deficit if each employee took five unpaid days off during the next school year. Three days off without pay would save an estimated $300,000, according to officials.

Atkins offered suggestions ranging from increasing proposed cuts to athletics from 10 percent to 25 percent, doing away with the district’s employee mileage stipend, school board members’ $240 monthly stipend and eliminating a second administrator. The classified employees also proposed closing Nevada Union’s pool, which he said was in need of costly repairs. Students could instead travel to Bear River to swim.

“We’ve been asked where we see a chance to reduce the budget, and those are some of things that have come up,” Atkins said. “The district is saying every penny counts. If they save on some of these things maybe we can get a layoff back.”

While he knows the proposals won’t take care of the entire budget deficit, Atkins said he’d like to see the cuts distributed evenly throughout the schools and not weigh too heavily on the classified staff.

“In departments like maintenance and custodial we’re already at bare bones,” Atkins said.

To contact Staff Writer Kyle Magin, e-mail or call (530) 477-4239.

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