ORANGE : 10 School Library Aides to Lose Jobs

The Orange Unified School District is eliminating the positions of 10 library assistants at its elementary schools in an effort to cut $1.1 million from its budget.

As a result of the cutback, many of the 16 remaining library assistants, who run the 26 elementary school libraries, will each be responsible for operating two libraries instead of one.

"The schools will have to do some sharing," Gretchen Hanson, assistant superintendent of educational services, said Thursday. "What it means is that (the schools) won't (always) have a library media assistant in there. They could use a volunteer or a teacher could go in with a class."

The library layoffs are part of the elimination of 47 classified positions, including maintenance and custodial staff, secretaries and audio visual technicians, which the school trustees approved this summer.

At the time of the layoff vote in August, district officials stressed that the jobs might not actually be cut if they could reach an agreement on salary reductions with members of the California School Employees Assn.

Negotiations between the district and the union continued Thursday.

It was unclear how many of the district's classified employees will find themselves without jobs as the layoffs continue since many of those in the affected positions can use seniority rights and bump colleagues in lower-ranked jobs, said Jack Elsner, the district's human resources director.

Moreover, Hanson said the true impact of the cuts and how to live with the results have not yet been determined by district officials.

"We needed to make those cuts to make us solvent, and now we have to figure out how to live with them," Hanson said.

About 10 parents picketed in front of the district headquarters Thursday afternoon to protest the reduction in services to children.

"I just think the library is one of the most important tools to the students and it's the wrong place to save money," said Thomas Mullin, who has a son attending Villa Park High School.

"The board members should try to run two libraries on their own without help," added Linda Peterson, who has two children attending Orange elementary schools. "It's unbelievable what society is doing to our kids."

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