Head Start teachers protested Thursday outside the El Dorado County Office of Education against recent cuts to their schedules.
“When I got the call that we got that grant it was like, ‘Woohoo!’ I get to keep the job that I love. Then, a couple days later, they told me my hours had been cut, and I felt like I had been punched in the stomach,” teacher Sandee Bangs said.
The El Dorado County Office of Education received the $4 million Head Start and Early Head Start grant in June of 2014. The protesting teachers told FOX40 they had their days and hours cut, which resulted in much less take-home pay.
“It’s a drastic cut. Thirty percent. My salary has been cut by $12,000 per year,” Bangs said.
Bangs told FOX40 the teacher’s existing contracts require them to work 6.5 hours per day for 205 days per year. She said her new work schedule has been cut to 5 hours per day for 185 days per year. Bangs says her classroom hours have also been reduced from 4 hours per day to 3.5 hours per day.
“We never like to make these kinds of reductions,” El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Meyers told FOX40.
Meyers said this particular grant has always been competitive, but this was the first time in 40 years the county had to fight for it.
“We had to re-compete for these funds from the federal government. So this isn’t something we chose to do. This is something we were required to do,” said Meyers.
Protestor Angela Cayafas said the county was also required to do something else.
“We’re under contract so they do have to follow that,” said Cayafas.
Cayafas represents classified workers with HeadStart. She says they are joining in on a lawsuit, along with the teachers, claiming that cutting their hours without negotiations amounted to unfair labor practices.
“They can’t do the same amount of work in a shorter amount of time,” said Cayafas.
“We want the public to know these cuts are affecting our children. These are all low income families. They need us,” said Bangs.
Bangs said the California Teacher’s Association with file the complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board. She says PERB will use the code of education to determine if unfair labor practices were used.