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Ocean View School District rejects proposed cuts to preschool work hours and classified staff

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Members of the California School Employees Assn., which represents classified employees in the Ocean View School District, appear at a district board meeting Tuesday night to speak out against proposed preschool work hours and staff cuts.
(Lilly Nguyen)

Cheers and applause greeted the Ocean View School District board of trustees Tuesday night after it unanimously rejected proposed reductions in work hours and classified staff at the fee-based Pleasant View/Ocean View Preparatory Preschool and potentially at the state-funded Oak View Preschool.

“I feel that at this time, because it doesn’t look to me like on paper [the savings are] all that much – $181,155? — that’s not enough savings to hurt human beings,” trustee Gina Clayton-Tarvin said. “People are more important to me than dollars and cents. I do feel that this is not the year for this, but it will come.”

Jason Bozarth, president of Chapter 375 of the California School Employees Assn., which represents classified employees in the district, said he felt the board was in agreement with concerns presented by organization members and preschool program supporters.

“I was very grateful to the board and I hope that we can continue to move forward and work with the district and administration to … come up with a way to keep the program alive,” Bozarth said. “There are cuts and problems we need to overcome, and I feel we can best do it together.”

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Changes suggested by district staff would cut the work hours for early-learning educators, associate educators and attendants. The number of staff members working at a certain time of day or year would be decreased depending on student enrollment, according to district Supt. Carol Hansen.

Work potentially could be decreased from 12 months a year to 10 months or from 40 hours a week to 30 hours for full-time employees because of lower enrollment in the summer, or in specific hours when additional staff may not be needed to meet state requirements for teacher-student ratios. Hours for part-time staff also would be affected.

District staff also proposed potential layoffs that could result in the loss of three employees because of “bumping rights,” typically a contractual agreement that allows senior-level employees to displace junior-level workers. The only job that wouldn’t be filled next year, Hansen said, was an early-learning associate educator position that is currently vacant.

The changes in hours and the potential layoffs, in combination with raised tuition, were expected to offset the program’s potential encroachment on district general funds.

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Tuition increases for the Preparatory Preschool were approved at the board’s March 19 meeting. Parents will pay about $75 more for the five-day full-time program and $25 more for the three-day full-time program in the next school year. Other program options will not be affected.

Trustee Patricia Singer said she hopes the tuition increases, along with increased preschool promotion that may help attract more enrollment, will prevent the need for the board to revisit cutbacks in the future.

Public comments Tuesday largely disapproved of both proposals that would affect staff.

“The biggest problem was that we were not made a part of the process,” Bozarth said before the meeting. “If we’re made a part of the … decision-making process, then we can own the resolution. We can ... talk to the district about what these cuts are, what we can do, how we might be able to mitigate some of them so we can get our people a good, soft landing.”

Trustee Norm Westwell said before the vote that he felt the direction of the proposed changes was unclear and that there wasn’t enough time to discuss them with CSEA. He asked Bozarth if any delay in the vote would help discussions between the district and classified staff on the matter. He ultimately joined the other trustees in voting against the changes.

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