Ryan Hagen. The (San Bernardino County) Sun
Posted: 10/06/2011 01:34:49 PM PDT

COLTON – The Colton Unified School District board on Thursday delayed making a decision on potential cuts to transportation – including a plan that would eliminate busing for most students and 41 jobs – after a last-minute offer by the union representing those employees.

Nick Ramirez, president of the California School Employees Association, pointed to concessions his members made earlier this year and asked why the board hadn’t come to him to work out another solution.

“What good does it do us to give you guys concessions when four months later you’re going to do this to us?” Ramirez said. “Why didn’t you come to us?”

After confirming with Ramirez that he would be willing to meet to work out another option – by implication, reduced pay for the non-teaching employees represented by CSEA – the board took him up on the offer.

“With all due respect to the bus drivers who’ve come out here tonight, I’m not so concerned about the jobs – I’m more concerned about our kids’ safety,” said board member Robert Armenta. “I’ve supported many of our district’s drastic cuts but especially in conjunction with the elimination of crossing guards, I’m not ready to support this.”

The district expected to save between $909,000 and $1.8 million per year through the cuts, depending on which option they chose. The district must shave nearly $14 million from the 2012-2013 to avoid deficit spending.

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