Sunnyside board votes to cut about 30 jobs

2014-01-29T00:00:00Z Sunnyside board votes to cut about 30 jobsBy Jamar Younger Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The Sunnyside Unified School District Governing Board voted Tuesday night to reduce about 30 positions as the district begins to slash its budget in order to make up for a deficit.

The reductions include mostly maintenance employees, such as plumbers, electricians and groundskeepers, as well as positions in the warehouse, which will be shut down as part of the district’s budget cuts.

Some administrative positions, such as principals, also were part of the reductions.

Sunnyside will eliminate the principal position at Chaparral Middle School, but the principal, John Benavidez, is slated to take over at Challenger Middle School.

Challenger’s principal, Roxana Rico, will become the district’s K-6 curriculum director , said district spokeswoman Mary Veres.

Some maintenance employees will be able to seek other positions in Sunnyside or receive a $2,000 incentive if they retire or seek employment outside of the district.

The incentive money won’t affect the budget cuts because the money will be taken from this year’s budget, said Sunnyside Chief Financial Officer Hector Encinas.

Incentives might not be enough for some warehouse employees, who say they are responsible for receiving packages that arrive at the district. The district will lose accountability and control if it shuts down the warehouse, known as the central receiving department, said warehouse supervisor Jose Felix.

“There are a lot of things in the district that will get lost,” Felix said.

District officials expect the reductions approved Tuesday to save about $1 million.

The district is looking to save $6 million from all of its budget cuts, which include releasing employees who have retired and returned to work, elementary school specialists and other positions.

The reductions marked the latest chapter in Sunnyside’s budget cuts, which were approved in November after voters rejected a budget override.

Sunnyside’s Governing Board approved the closures of two schools, Los Ranchitos Elementary School and Chaparral Middle School, a couple of weeks ago .

The district also will convert Ocotillo Early Learning Center into a pre-kindergarten through first-grade early-childhood center.

District officials also approved a plan to retain and reassign teachers from the two closed schools and Ocotillo.

Sunnyside will host the first round of interviews today and Thursday for employees from the three schools who look to transfer to different jobs within the district.

The district will hold 169 interviews for 79 applicants, many of whom will interview for multiple jobs.

Recall vote

The Governing Board also voted 3-2 to ask the Pima County School Superintendent’s Office to hold the district’s recall election at a polling place.

A recall group wants to oust Louie Gonzales and Bobby Garcia because the two board members, along with board member Eva Carrillo Dong, support embattled Sunnyside Superintendent Manuel Isquierdo.

The County School Superintendent’s Office called for the election to be held using mail-in ballots.

However, Gonzales said the election would have a better turnout if it were held at a traditional polling place.

Board members Daniel Hernandez Jr. and Buck Crouch voted against the decision, disagreeing with the assertion that it would increase voter turnout.

Contact reporter Jamar Younger at jyounger@azstarnet.com or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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