COMPTON SCHOOLS BEHIND ON SUMMER MAINTENANCE
COMPTON—The Compton Unified School District is running behind on its summer maintenance program because of personnel shortages stemming from the release of substitute employees.
The Personnel Commission heard complaints about the shortage during its meeting on Thursday, July 26, and said it cannot provide any relief because it is a district administration issue.
Personnel commissioners do not play a role in deciding where substitute employees work within the district but they do provide the candidate list for vacant positions.
“There should always be a substitute workforce available,” interim Personnel Director Dr. Matthew Spencer said. “The need will be there during the school year, and we must continue working until the new list is ready to use, in my opinion.”
American Federation of Teacher local 409 President Gwen Holmes said she understands that substitute employees have been let go, but the district needs an alternative plan.
“Plant Supervisor Damon Fields received marching orders from his superiors,” she said. “Interim Superintendent Dr. Carmella Franco wants a lot of things done before school begins, but they are impossible with the current staffing issues.”
Compton High School has 2,700 students attending class during the school year, and nine plant workers usually manage the facility.
“I have six plant workers right now,” interim Plant Manager Damon Williams said.
The union files grievances with the district, Holmes said, because the schools do not have the staffing to handle additional work.
"We cannot keep up,” she said. “Dominguez High School does not have a plant manager, so nobody supervises the workers.”
Fields said Dominguez only has three plant workers doing summer maintenance.
“I cannot place out-of-class employees in those positions because I cannot backfill those jobs,” he said. “That school is suffering.”
Fields expressed his concerns to Ron Ellis, Senior Director of Facilities Maintenance, but the problem remains unresolved.
“He told Fields to get the work done,” she said. “That means he has been serving as a plant manager and worker at some locations.”
The union grievance centers around dues owed to the union.
“If Mr. Fields does the work he needs to pay dues,” she said. “There should be plant workers in these positions. This shortage costs the union money.”
Spencer told the commissioners that several plant workers are currently on leaves of absence.
“The work does not go away,” he said. “Mr. Ellis told me the district will add limited-term employees to the plant worker staff for the summer, so the buildings can be ready for fall semester. I understand the employees have a lot of work to do.”
A report prepared for the CUSD Board of Trustees by Spencer revealed 32 substitute employees working in permanent staff positions.
“I do not know why the trustees let all the substitutes go,” he said.
Spencer said he is working with the district and will create a new eligibility list for the vacant positions as soon as possible.
“For now, the district will use the existing substitute pool,” he said. “Those people have been fingerprinted and screened, and can be recalled until the new list is in place.”
Commissioner Janice Irving said the district was reckless when it dismissed the substitutes.
“Someone should have looked at the big picture before dumping people,” she said.
Holmes asked the commissioners for a copy of the new eligibility list.
The next Personnel Commission meeting is on Thursday, Aug. 2.