VINELAND - School leaders plan to lay off every administrative assistant in the district and also may cut all 15 assistant principals.
On Wednesday, Superintendent Maryann Banks named two administrative assistants whose jobs will be cut and said eight assistant principals also may be laid off. She and school board members refused to say anything about the matter at Wednesday's board meeting beyond confirming the names and potential fates of those 10 people, citing personnel protections that forbid them from disclosing the information.
However, other school employees confirmed that all administrative assistants and assistant principals in the school district were given "Rice notices" indicating their employment would be discussed. The 10 employees confirmed by Banks were the ones who opted to have their situations discussed in public, while other affected employees chose to keep the discussions private.
"Every assistant principal got Riced," said Lisa Arena, principal of Dr. William Mennies Elementary School, noting that the same went for administrative assistants.
Board members are turning to layoffs due to concerns of major education cuts by Gov. Chris Christie. They could vote on the layoffs at next Wednesday's board meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the school administration building on Plum Street.
It was not immediately clear Wednesday night how many district employees fall within the category of administrative assistant because Vineland schools' online employee directory does not categorize anyone under that title. In fact, the title has no mention in the district's organizational flow chart.
However, it's clear there could be quite a few administrative assistants, and they do not appear to be just secretaries, as is often the case. A Vineland High School student handbook lists eight "administrative assistants" at the high school, and several of them are listed in the employee directory as having positions of "assistant principal, teaching" or "classroom teachers." In addition, past meeting minutes refer to various secretaries as administrative assistants.
Carol Belawsky, an aide at Mennies and director of after-school and before-school programs at the YMCA, attended Wednesday's meeting in support of Mennies Assistant Principal Kristen Estep and other administrators.
"It's like a second hand for a principal," Belawsky said. "She works 12 months a year. You just cannot do without them."
School officials did not accept public input at the meeting, with solicitor Bob DeSanto saying the Rice notice effectively made the discussions part of a closed session in which public feedback was not allowed. Several affected employees declined comment, still absorbing the news that they could be losing their jobs.
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