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Some Ledyard school, town employees get layoff notices

Ledyard — School secretaries, health aides and library workers here have been laid off or soon will be, according to the union that represents them.

"We're disappointed, upset and angry that this is happening," said Larry Dorman, public affairs coordinator for Council 4, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 30,000 workers in the state, including many in southeastern Connecticut.

Dorman said the Board of Education initially laid off six 10-month secretaries a couple of weeks ago and that over the past weekend, the union learned the town had delivered layoff notices to four health aides who work in the schools and five library workers.

All of the layoffs come as the town downsizes due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dorman said.

"Across the state, we're working with cities and towns trying to mitigate the impact of this unprecedented crisis," he said. "We're working with administrators and officials to protect people and services so that we can get through this. But here, the superintendent and the mayor are doing the opposite by laying off people, causing greater pain and anxiety."

With the school secretaries facing the immediate loss of health benefits, the union and the school board negotiated an agreement allowing the secretaries to use any available paid leave before collecting unemployment benefits. And, under the deal, the board will provide payment for 100% of the secretaries' remaining medical, dental and vision payments for coverage through June 30.

Any employee who has no available leave is free to immediately apply for unemployment.

School Superintendent Jason Hartling said the school system also would layoff other 10-month employees who are not affiliated with a union, a group that includes paraprofessionals. He said the school system has about 100 10-month employees who only work when schools are in session.

"There's an idea that because the town allocated the money, we should just go ahead and pay it out," Hartling said. "But we have a responsibility to the taxpayers as well as employees. It's our responsibility to make decisions that are prudent. We know our budget is going to be impacted going forward."

Hartling said Ledyard is among the poorest-funded school districts in the state and that future reductions in school funding would be devastating for students.

Dorman said the health aides' contract with the town requires 30 days' notice of a layoff and calls for employees to be paid if school is closed "for emergency reasons."

Attempts to reach Mayor Fred Allyn III were unsuccessful.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

 

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