Done cut maintenance workers' positions
To the editor:
I am a retired Clayton County school teacher, who spent 33 enjoyable years teaching mostly first-graders. I taught through the ups and downs in Clayton County, from 1970 until 2003. It has come to my attention that the Clayton County Board of Education is taking measures to reduce their overhead. This is an admirable goal, but I am concerned that the direction in which they are attempting to achieve this objective may be a self-destructive one.
It seems board members and the superintendent have decided that approximately 20 maintenance employee positions should be eliminated. Unfortunately, all the employees chosen to be eliminated have at least 16 years of experience. Several of these are within 2 to 5 years of a full (thirty years) retirement. This choice concerns me on several levels. Firstly, when an employee has performed well for an abundance of years, even decades, he/she deserves the respect of having their questions answered in regards to their future. This has not been the case in this situation. Clayton County Board of Education representatives have not given any definite facts to the personnel in question. The questions they do give answers to vary in content from one time to the next. It appears that neither the superintendent, nor the board members, know what they are going to do, or it may be possible that they intentionally do not want to enlighten the employees or the public.
My second concern is that men with experience are being targeted. These are the personnel who are teaching the novice employees. This simply is not a wise decision. Mentors are invaluable in any profession. By taking away the experienced employees, the quality of work will be threatened. Remember, it is the children's welfare at stake here.
Thirdly, the message the board is sending is that there is no future in being employed in their institution. It will be noted by the public that retirement may not be an attainable goal for hard-working personnel, since they are likely to be discarded within a handful of years of retirement. Who in their right mind will want to be employed under these circumstances!
I think it is time for the public to understand exactly what it is that the maintenance personnel do. Most people know that they work on heaters, air conditioners, electrical wiring, plumbing and numerous other basic repairs. Their work has been exemplary. What the public does not know is that they often become role models for the students in Clayton County schools. I have seen them use their lunch breaks to sit in the lunchroom with children, who do not have a male role model at home. On one occasion, a maintenance man, during a fire drill -- which turned out to be the real thing -- took it upon himself to carry a child struggling with crutches out of B. C. Haynie Elementary, while a second maintenance man directed the children away from the fire. It was two maintenance men, who, on their own time, discovered the reason why a Tourette Syndrome child's symptoms had drastically increased. They corrected the situation (the lighting) to the surprise of the doctors, and deep gratitude of the parents. It was a maintenance worker who made a mad dash to his truck to retrieve the correct tool to cut a ring off of the swollen finger of a very scared child. Maintenance workers have even come into the classroom to help teach a unit on tools.
The point I am attempting to make is that the Clayton County school system's maintenance department is part of the foundation on which the whole system has been built. I hope that school board members and the superintendent will realize that kicking out the foundation which supports them is not intelligent. I would like to suggest to them to look closer to "home" to find the fluff.