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Retired MDUSD special ed assistant decries recent budget cuts

By Theresa Harrington
Saturday, June 25th, 2011 at 11:33 am in Education, Mt. Diablo school district.

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?

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  • 4Students

    The writer Carol Heath was quoted in your article last year http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_14383133? We need more employees like her working with our students, and not less. MDUSD should have passed the Measure D parcel tax to prevent these horrendous cuts and reductions.

  • MDUSD Board Watcher

    Well, well, what do you know?

    Are we all living in the movie ground hog day? That Steven Lawrence is out of his mind if he thinks the board will approve this after trying to get Nugent in last year even though he had a checkered past.

    I guess you never know with this board. Gary and Sherry will vote yes, it will be up to the other three to do what is right for the district.

  • g

    It was obviously just another case of The Gary refusing to change his mind, listen to reason, or admit to possible incorrect action. They did not have to be cut at this time.

  • Anon

    I hate to say it but with the “weak” women on this board, what Gary wants, Gary gets.

    Come on ladies grow a pair and stand up to this bully.

  • Theresa Harrington

    Trustees Cheryl Hansen and Lynne Dennler voted against the special education assistant cuts.
    Trustees Sherry Whitmarsh and Linda Mayo voted for them, along with Board President Gary Eberhart.

  • Doctor J

    The hypocrisy in the Board cutting the SEA to less than half time to take away their benefits and the Board retaining their own MDUSD health benefits is enormous.

  • Theresa Harrington

    I have just posted some videos I shot at the June 14 board meeting, including a special education assistant who specifically asked trustees if they would be willing to give up their benefits: http://bit.ly/laMvzk.
    Do board members work more than three hours a day on district business?

  • Anon

    Ridiculous to cut hours from 6, then to 5, now to 3. And with no benefits. Not sure which SEA classification this applies, but most SEA’s in SDC classrooms, SEA’s in Resource classrooms and SEA’s that work a one on one position in a general ed classroom work 5 hrs. a day. How will the MDUSD retain these dedicated and hard working employees? How will this affect their students and the teachers in the special ed classrooms?
    How can the MDUSD attract future employees and substitutes (many SEA substitutes in the MDUSD also).