VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A total of 475 Evergreen Public Schools employees will be furloughed from the district when school reopens with remote classes on September 1, officials confirmed to KOIN 6 News.
The members of the Public School Employees of Washington labor union will be able to retain their benefits and apply for unemployment under the furlough status and may be called back later in September if and when “small groups of students begin to be transported and served within school buildings.”
Those affected “provide direct work and support of students,” said Evergreen Public Schools Communications Director Gail Spolar, and won’t be needed when school opens remotely next week. They include bus drivers, playground monitors, lunch aides and other similar positions.
She said there are about 1,115 employees in that group. In the spring, the district put a hiring freeze in place that saved 200 positions. Without that freeze, there would have likely been more than the 475 furloughs, she said.
Evergreen is one of 8 Clark County school districts to announce fall classes will be conducted online due to the pandemic. The others are Battle Ground, Camas, Hockinson, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver and Washougal.
In mid-July, Spolar said the district was planning for several scenarios for the 2020-21 school year.
“The state is requiring us to have a plan submitted two weeks prior to the start of school,” said Spolar. “So we are wanting to give parents some sort of idea where we are going at the same time things are changing so quickly that we are hoping we will give them information sometime in August.”
“It’s a very unfortunate and sad thing,” said Evergreen School District Superintendent Mike Merlino. “It’s very unfortunate that we have to do this but I think we do have to, with respect to the potential reductions we’ve talked and will talk a little bit more when we get into the budget.”
The state of Washington is facing a $9-billion shortfall. Evergreen School District is also seeing a drop in enrollment as some parents opt to homeschool their kids. And since kids aren’t riding the bus, Merlino said they’re losing somewhere between $7-10 million in transportation revenue.