Tucson's largest school district is still millions of dollars away from its target in budget cuts for next year. And now, those who fear the ax are giving the board advice.
The district estimates that it needs about $17 million in cuts for next year. Right now, it's at about $14 million, and it wants a buffer between what it needs. The governing board could seek about $5 million more in cuts.
Blue collar workers are worried. Members of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, known as AFSCME Local 449, who are the bus drivers, bus monitors, custodians, and maintenance employees of the district, spoke up Tuesday night. About fifteen members, many of them dressed in green shirts, attended the governing board meeting. While the board pulled the budget discussion from its agenda, AFSCME members still spoke up at Call to the Audience.
The employees expressed concern about the future of their jobs, pay, and benefits. Their executive director urged the board to look at cutting performance bonuses for the cabinet in order to help prevent cuts to blue collar workers.
"We're asking them to share the sacrifice, to cut that out of their contracts so we can eliminate less jobs from our employees," said AFSCME Local 449 executive director Matthew Cline.
"Our concern is being able to make ends meet, we are grossly underpaid for the responsibility that we have, we're afraid of our benefits getting cut," said TUSD bus driver Cindy Graybill.
Board president Adelita Grijalva said that the budget will be discussed further at a later date.
About 15 members were in the crowd tonight. They say they can't bear cuts to what they make, or job cuts altogether. They urge the district cabinet to forgo performance bonuses to help prevent blue collar cuts.
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