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School layoffs now list 111

May 12, 2010 - With 111 pink-slipped teachers and staff, paraeducator Pam Brown stood before Clarkston Board of Education and asked what is to become of the district's world-class standards.

"I have heard 'don't worry because there are government standards to maintain,'" said Brown, special education paraeducator on the list to lose her job. "Clarkston has always been considered top-notch in education – has Clarkston gone from top notch to (just) meeting standards?"

"We don't take this action lightly," said Treasurer Rosalie Lieblang. "We wish we didn't have to lose anyone in the district."

Board President Steve Hyer suggested she talk to the director of her department.

Superintendent Al Roberts just stared.

Clarkston Board of Education approved a lay-off list of 58 more school employees, for a total of 111 teachers and staff facing layoff this summer. Clarkston Board of Education voted 7-0 to approve the layoffs, cutting $10 million from the budget.

"It's unfortunate," said Brooke Davis, Clarkston Education Association president. "I think it is way too much. They need to look at fund equity and looking at some programs to cut to save money instead of staff."

The list includes five busdrivers, seven custodians, four media paraeducators, three part-time clerks, two full time clerks, one secretary, four building aides, one attendance liason and 34 special eduation paraeducators.

Brown said she will consider volunteering next year because she enjoys helping children, but asked the board what will happen to standards with 34 parapros missing from the classrooms.

"I stay after and help kids that need help," she said, pointing out other paraeducators take extra time out of their day to help the students.

The board previously approved lay off notices for 53 full-and part-time teachers.

The combination will make it hard for both staff members and students, Davis said.

In the past, he told teachers the district usually brings a majority of the laid off staff back . He's not so sure this year.

"I don't know if they will bring half back," he said. "It's a weird year."

Even if employment groups make concessions and cuts, there isn't a guarantee a majority of the staff will come back, Davis added.

"We have an agreement with Clarkston Community Schools the district will try to bring back any staff if they have the money and they need the staff," he said. "They want to do it before the staff leaves in June."

Another factor is pending state retirement plans and incentives for school employees.

If more teachers retire, the district can bring more back to fill their places. But Davis pointed out it could mean more comes out of pay to cover incentives.

The latest staff can be brought back is the first day of school.

"If we get half back I will be happy," said Davis.

Roberts did not respond to a call for comment.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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