This guest commentary appears in today’s Contra Costa Times. I am posting it here to give blog readers a chance to respond to the concerns raised by Carol Heath, a retired Mt. Diablo school district special education assistant.
“By Carol Heath: Guest Commentary
AS A recently retired special ed assistant with Mt. Diablo Unified School District, I enjoyed my 22 years of working with special needs kids.
Some days were fun, some frustrating, some sad, always interesting, but each day was full of challenges my co-workers and I faced getting every student to reach their full potential.
I was disheartened to learn of the cuts in hours and benefits of about 65 special ed assistants.
Most of these people had just had their hours cut last summer from six hours to five hours a day, but still retained most of their benefits.
Cutting them to three hours a day is just wrong.
Already these employees were making less than $25,000 per year. A lot were only able to stay in the job because of the benefits and a love for the students.
Many, as I did, had part-time jobs on weekends and evenings.
Imagine my anger to learn that MDUSD has just hired a new “assistant construction manager” costing nearly $83,000 per year to act as a liaison between workers and the construction manager of the new solar projects.
Apparently this person will help the workers not hold the plans upside down and backward and cut down the wrong trees.
While I really appreciate trees and hope no more are cut down accidentally, about four or five special ed assistants’ hours and benefits could be saved by having whoever is in charge of this solar project do his or her job instead of creating yet another managerial position.
Surely the people who work directly with students should be given more respect than this.”
Carol Heath is a resident of Pleasant Hill. In her commentary, she refers to six trees that were mistakenly cut down in front of Delta View Elementary in Pittsburg by district maintenance and operations workers, who thought they were supposed to be removed for the Measure C solar project.
At the meeting where board members agreed to cut special education assistants, Superintendent Steven Lawrence and CFO Bryan Richards said the district would be able to maintain a “positive” budget certification without reducing the hours of special education assistants.
Do you agree with the board’s decision to cut special education assistants?