All Frederick County taxpayers should be extremely disappointed in the Board of Education's decision to approve a reduction in force (RIF) of hundreds of bus drivers and food service employees. This decision shows a lack of regard and empathy for hundreds of families, including our own, who need income during this state of emergency and economic and social instability.
Food service and transportation positions are the most difficult to fill and to retain under good circumstances. Due to layoffs, these employees will have to find other jobs. When the time comes to resume in-person classes, where will FCPS find sufficiently trained, certified staff to perform these essential jobs?
BOE President Brad Young admitted to the Frederick News-Post that this decision, which was discussed in private, without public comment, was not made because of a gap in funding. Funds were appropriated for these positions, effective July 1, 2020. All other school district employees will be retained and paid. What are the real reasons for the RIF?
According to Mr. Young, the BOE decided that it did not want to pay these employees because they were not actually working. He said: "...it’s hard to justify to other employees who are working, how you’re paying other employees who are not.” That’s not a good reason to lay off hundreds of people in the middle of a national emergency.
The board and FCPS staff should think creatively. These people want to work. These employees, in good faith, agreed to perform the work and committed to FCPS for the 2020-21 school year. And now, with no time to find comparable work, they have been denied the opportunity to earn a living through a BOE decision made with no public/taxpayer comment.
Did the board and FCPS staff think about how to creatively use these workers to do other jobs in FCPS? Literally tens of millions of people are out of work right now; applying for unemployment or finding a new job will be incredibly difficult.
I am very disappointed in the board's short-sighted decision as well as the insensitive comments Mr. Young made regarding this decision and his obvious disregard for FCPS employees and their needs.
A public hearing on this matter is needed to help find solutions that would allow these employees to retain their positions, medical insurance and salaries.