Wake employees notified of layoffs over the phone

May 18, 2011 4:37:23 AM PDT
Nearly 100 employees with the Wake County Public School System will be out of a job by the end of June.

The cuts are just one of the major developments to come out of what became a very intense school board meeting Tuesday evening.

"It's unfortunate, it's a tough decision we had to make," said school board member Keith Sutton.

Sutton was among the six board members who gave the green light for a reduction in force request calling for elimination of 174 positions. Ninety-five of those are filled.

The employees were notified by phone Tuesday evening.

The cuts were part of Superintendent Tony Tata's proposed budget and include 19 central services positions. The others are school-based clerical positions.

"They're clerical positions, but they're also the people who hold the parent's hands when they leave their kindergarteners there," board member Ann McLaurin said. "They're the people who take care of the kids while they're waiting for their moms to pick them up. They are very good people, and I'm sorry that this school system can't support them."

McLaurin voted against the request. She says she feels the board should have at least requested additional funding from the county, before moving along with the cuts.

"We appreciate all our employees, and we wish that we had the funds to support them," she added.

The employees who are being laid off will be able to stay on the job through the end of June.

Also on the agenda Tuesday evening was a final vote on a plan to redraw the voting districts for school board members. It passed.

Attorney Kieran Shanahan presented the map to the board. His law firm was chosen to come up with the new voting districts.

The district map is redrawn every 10 years based on population data from the U.S. Census. The map has been in the works for months and some school board members say it is about as fair as it can be.

Board member John Tedesco said earlier this month the new map more evenly distributes the population growth Wake has seen in the last decade.

"I've never seen a redistricting map that's been fairer," Tedesco said.

The population in each district would be around 100,000 people.

Now that the map is approved, candidates can file for October elections. Five of nine school board seats will be contested this fall.

Several board members expressed concern with the process that led to the new district lines, leading to a fiery discussion between those who wanted options.

"It's not a question of being reasonably satisfied," board member Keith Sutton said. "It's a question of having a couple of options."

The board approved the new districts in a 5 to 3 vote.

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