VANCOUVER, Wash. (Nov. 19, 2020) — Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Vancouver Public Schools is balancing its budget on the backs of its lowest-paid school employees — and the students that need their individualized support — by furloughing hundreds of their paraeducators and classified employees, and reducing the hours for many of those who remain.
The Vancouver Association of Educational Support Professionals (VAESP), which represents paraeducators, clerks, secretaries, and other personnel at these schools, is asking all union members and supporters of equitable education in Southwest Washington to take action to end these furloughs.
TAKE A STAND — Here are two things you can do to support the VAESP professionals: 1) Please sign and share this petition at Change.org urging Vancouver school administrators to restore equitable support for students by ending these furloughs, and 2) If you live in the Vancouver area, please contact the Vancouver Public Schools board of directors by phone AND email to tell them it’s time to being support staff back!
Wendy Smith — firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell them: By choosing to furlough several hundred classified employees this fall, Vancouver Public Schools has eliminated the caring support and individual attention that these staff members provide to VPS students. Our students deserve to have these dedicated educators supporting their learning during this difficult and unprecedented school year. This unnecessary and shortsighted decision to cut staff is hurting Vancouver students.
The Change.org petition reads:
It is completely unacceptable that Vancouver Public Schools has furloughed hundreds of paraeducators and office professionals this fall. Concerned citizens, like me, cannot fathom the superintendent’s decision to balance Vancouver Public Schools’ budget on the backs of its lowest-paid employees.
The district cites decreased enrollment and its impact on funding to justify cutting the jobs of hundreds of support staff. But an estimated $35 million “rainy day” reserve fund balance is evidence that Vancouver Public Schools has the money to do more. It’s harder than ever to support students virtually. Parents and students deserve more during these difficult times. 100% of Vancouver Public Schools’ support staff are necessary to ensure the diverse needs of the district’s families are being met. This is the greatest public health emergency in more than a century. If this doesn’t meet the district’s threshold for spending a portion of its “rainy day” reserve, what does?
It’s impossible to justify the Vancouver superintendent’s plan to pad the district’s rainy-day fund instead of doing all he can do to provide equitable learning opportunities and adequate support for ALL Vancouver students. I strongly urge you, the Vancouver School Board, to overturn Superintendent Steve Webb’s misguided approach and bring back the district’s support staff, to ensure every student has the individualized support of a caring educator in Vancouver Public Schools.