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News / Clark County News

Battle Ground school officials approve furloughing 107 classified employees

By Katie Gillespie, Columbian Education Reporter
Published: August 28, 2020, 5:40pm

The Battle Ground Public Schools Board of Directors approved 107 furloughs of classified employees at a special meeting Friday.

The north Clark County school district will temporarily reduce its classified staff of 685 people by about 16 percent in preparation for a remote start to the school year.

The furloughs include 73 special education assistants, 28 crossing guards, and early childhood and community education employees.

“It’s need and it’s finances at this point,” said Shelly Whitten, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources. “We don’t know for sure what our finances will look like, because the start of the school year will determine that based on enrollment. But what we do know is that hourly employees, they only get paid for the hours they work, and so we have to have work for them to do.”

The district will also scale back its contracts with Cascade Student Transportation, its bus contractor, and Sodexo, its meal vendor. Students will be able to go to campuses to grab meals, but services will be significantly scaled back because students won’t be on campus.

The employees will remain eligible for health care benefits and receive unemployment benefits while furloughed. The district will begin rolling employees back in as schools reopen for in-person instruction. Whitten noted that for some of the furloughed paraeducators, those cuts may be short depending on the needs of students’ special education plans.

“Certainly, it breaks our heart to have 107 employees that we’re talking about today, but due to COVID and being in remote learning, we just don’t see that we have any option but to put this in front of you,” Whitten said.

Evergreen Public Schools this week announced the furlough of 475 classified employees. Superintendent Mike Merlino said Tuesday at a school board meeting that the district could announce additional reductions of its clerical staff.

Vancouver Public Schools could also announce reductions, but district spokeswoman Pat Nuzzo said negotiations are ongoing with the classified employee unions.

Columbian Education Reporter