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DC-37 official: Cutting school aides won't save city much money

An official for the union that represents most of the hundreds of city school staff facing layoffs this fall said the cuts would amount to mere “chump change” for the Department of Education.

The vast majority of the employees are part-time and earn between $12,000 and $27,000 per year with their pensions, including benefits, according to Santos Crespo, president of Local 372 for District Council-37, which represents the workers. He made the comments this evening on WBAI, 99.5 FM Radio.

“That’s chump change,” he said. “What is the city actually saving on these cuts?”

Crespo announced that the city would restore some positions for substance abuse and violence prevention specialists that were on the table to be cut. But he said the other positions were also necessary.

“They’re school aides and health aides, they’re family workers, they’re parent coordinators,” he said. “They make sure those kids are ready to learn, from the moment that child leaves for school.”

The Bloomberg administration’s announcement last week that it plans to layoff nearly 800 school employees, including 737 DC-37 members, caught some union leaders off guard last week. City officials said the layoffs are necessary because the unions involved would not agree to sufficient concessions.

But on the air tonight, Crespo denied that the DOE had given the union opportunities to negotiate: “They did not sit down with us and discuss alternatives at all.”

He also suggested that racial discrimination is driving the cuts, which are set to hit some of the city’s poorest black and Latino communities hardest.

“Up in Washington Heights they’re getting clobbered, East New York, Central Brooklyn, getting clobbered. Other districts are not so high,” he said. “This is very, very targeted. This is setting up communities for failure.”

Mabel Blandino, a school aide at PS 130 in the South Bronx and a DC-37 member, said she has played an important role at the school where she has worked for the past 14 years, supporting the teaching staff and offering the students emotional support.

“My kids went to the school. My grandkids are there,” she said. “And the other kids from my grandkids’ class, they call me grandma — What’s better than that?”

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