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Simi Schools to Lay Off 5 of 10 Nurses

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Simi Valley Board of Education, faced with an $8.5-million budget deficit next year, announced Monday that it will lay off five school nurses in its latest attempt to reduce labor costs.

The board has already laid off 55 other employees who, along with the nurses, will lose their jobs July 1.

“It was a very difficult decision,” Supt. John Duncan said Monday after a special meeting between board members and the five nurses. “But we could find no other alternative.”

The layoffs, coupled with administrative reassignments and other cost-cutting measures, are expected to save the district enough money to balance its budget as mandated by state law, Duncan said.

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In February, the board voted to lay off 32 temporary teachers and to reassign 34 assistant principals, psychologists and other administrators to lower-level positions with reduced salaries. The following month, the board decided to cut 23 clerical and service employee positions.

Declining student enrollment, limited state funding and increased labor costs are responsible for the personnel cutbacks, district officials said. The projected $8.5-million shortfall is about 10.5% of the district’s proposed $76-million spending plan for 1990-91.

“We are very disappointed,” said Carole Barton, one of the nurses who will lose her job, which she has held for 13 years. “We sure hope that parents realize what this means.”

The layoffs will leave the district with only five nurses to serve 18,000 students. District officials, however, said administrators will be trained to perform some nursing duties.

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In addition to supervising emergency situations, school nurses give students vision and hearing exams, and assist those on medication or who are physically handicapped.

Hal Vick, executive director of the Simi Valley Educators Assn., which represents the district’s 750 teachers, said he does not believe that other employees will be able to adequately perform the duties of the nurses. He said the union will file complaints and grievances against the district to determine if employees without medical train ing have the legal right to perform nursing functions.

“They haven’t eliminated the work,” Vick said. “They eliminated half the people doing the work.”

Vick blamed the need for layoffs on poor planning by the district.

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“They should have seen this coming; certainly they should have been able to figure this out a year ago,” he said. “But rather than set money aside, they continued spending. It boggles my mind.”

Duncan denied that poor planning was a factor in the cutbacks and said a lack of state funding is the primary reason for the projected shortfall.


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