The Monrovia Unifed School Board laid off 35 employees and slashed the hours of elementary and middle school librarians before adopting a three-year budget Wednesday as board members warned that they expect the district's financial woes only to get worse.
Dismayed board members said they agreed with an audience member's characterization of the cuts as an "amputation" but insisted their hands were tied by state budget constraints that continue to look more dire by the day.
"Today it's an amputation of an arm, tomorrow it's an amputation of a leg, ... and it will get worse," board member Chris Rich said, referring to "draconian cuts" that the state continues to make. "We have no way to get out of it. We're in systemic meltdown."
The board voted unanimously to eliminate 35 total positions, including 32 instructional aides, two clerical assistant positions, and one instructional assistant. The layoffs take effect in August.
Also, librarians at and will have their hours slashed to 3.75 per day, according to Assistant Superintendent Debby Collins. Librarians at , , and elementaries will have their hours cut to 3 per day.
Collins said many of the employees laid off will be able to obtain jobs elsewhere in the district. She said she expects most part-time instructional aides to be hired back in the fall.
Teachers from Clifton made a last-ditch effort to keep full-time librarians by again organizing a quiet protest in the audience with people holding signs depicting messages like "What is a school without a library?" Two teachers spoke out against the library cuts, saying they would cripple the school's vaunted literacy program.
"If you take away this program of literacy development, you are amputating a key element of our school culture," said Marcie Hoopes, the head of Clifton's English Department. "If you rip away what we believe to fundamentally define us as a school, you are essentially saying to us that the best we have to offer is meaningless to you."
School Board President Ed Gililland said the cuts weren't even as bad as they could have been if the state had adopted a budget passed by the legislature last week that Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed. Rich said the district would have had to cut more than $2 million more annually under that budget.
"I hope everyone understands we really dodged a bullet this last week when the governor didn't sign that budget because if he had signed that budget we would be looking for considerably more cuts," Gililland said.
Though that budget was vetoed, board members did not expect anything to get better whenever the state comes up with a new one.
"Once again we're being put in this untenable position of passing a budget without having, from Sacramento, a signed budget," board member Clare Chesley said. "And I think we have to assume that things will get worse."