East Chicago schools cut 90 jobs after funding slashed

By The Associated Press

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — A Northwest Indiana school district has laid off 90 employees because of a reduction in state funding after a move to virtual learning.

The School City of East Chicago school board unanimously approved the staffing cuts in a special session meeting Friday night, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

Among those cut were 23 janitors, 18 special education paraprofessionals, 16 security services staff and 13 bus aides.

Superintendent Dee-Etta Wright said the layoffs are intended to be temporary while the district uses virtual learning for at least the first nine weeks of the school year.

The superintendent said union leadership was notified two weeks ago that layoffs would be coming as a means to prepare for potential reductions in the school city’s per pupil funding. A state law ensures only 85% of funding for students receiving half or more of their instruction virtually.

The district approved its virtual learning plan Aug. 3 after communication from state leaders assured districts they would receive full student funding, Wright said.

However, on Aug. 6, Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray issued a letter reminding school leaders of the state’s 85% funding law.

“It is frustrating,” School Board President Vanessa Hernandez-Orange said. “This is people’s livelihoods we’re dealing with.”

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