H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Apr 24, 2013 1:16 AM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

San Luis Coastal Unified supports recommendation to lay dozens off

The San Luis Coastal Unified School District made a decision on Tuesday night, that board members called difficult and unfortunate. The seven-member board voted unanimously to support Superintendent Eric Prater's recommendation to lay off dozens of district personnel- in an effort to cut millions of dollars from its budget.

Among those positions to be cut, include some bus drivers, IT Service, librarians, custodians, and elementary counselors.

Despite a major support from the public to keep all of the current eight full-time counselors, the board voted to go with the Superintendent's recommendation to cut five elementary counselors, and keep the equivalent of two. That will be coupled with a third counselor who has seniority and will maintain their position, this according to Prater.

The counselors who get to keep their jobs will oversee ten elementary schools.

Superintendent Prater said the counselor cuts will save the district nearly $350,000.

"The alternative was raising class sizes and laying off teachers, and our first focus in our school district is to improve instruction, focus on that, through professional development and training. We believe in keeping our class sizes down and maintaining our teacher capacity, is the best alternative to a series of bad options," said Prater.

Many parents and teachers though, went up to the board and expressed how they felt like counselors are essential in the quality of education.

Monarch Grove Elementary third grade teacher Jude Neuhauser said, "What the counselors do is they provide emotional support to the kids who arrive unable to learn, because they are in a state of anxiety, stress, whatever the issues are that they are bringing from home or that they have internally within them, whether it's some sort of mental illness."

The board said they had to take necessary action now, and they had no choice but to lay people off. Superintendent Prater told KSBY News that with all the recommended cuts that the board approved on Tuesday night, it made a $4-million reduction.

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